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A Racist Cartoon? You Make the Call
chimpcartoon461.jpgThe New York Post has taken some heat the last few days for running a political cartoon that is being seen by some to be racist.

As you can see, artist Sean Delonas depicted the writer of the stimulus package as an ape being shot dead in the street. The implication being the chimp is President Barry Obama. Uh, good one...

It doesn't matter what the intent was of the imagery. It doesn't matter. Like it or not, there has been a terrible history of people who can trace their family tree to Africa being vulgarly compared monkeys. This reminds me of the dopes that say the rebel flag is about "heritage, not hate." Symbology changes. The stars and bars have been adopted by bigots and racists. Sorry. That's what it represents now. You know, the swastika was used extensively, and with a variety of interpretations, in ancient cultures. In Hinduism, it is a holy symbol. But what do you think of when you see it? The representation of "stability and groundedness?" The point? Sometimes the perception matters more than the reality.

What's amazing is that it seems not one editor piped up and said, "You know, this could be viewed as racist," and killed the cartoon.

The questionable imagery aside, the thing I find most offensive is the thought of assassinating a President and the lack of a good joke here. Hacky, Mr. Delonas. Hacky.

Are we too sensitive? Is it all in good fun? Is it flat out racism? You tell me, kids...

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I have to say that that particular cartoon is not especially clear in what, exactly, the monkey is supposed to represent, and that's sorta key if you're trying to make a point.

In any case, unless I completely misunderstand how my government works, I don't think President Obama actually *wrote* the stimulus bill, he only signed it. So, I took the monkey as representing congress...

said TeaFizz on February 21, 2009 11:43 AM.

It could be a play on the adage of an infinite number of monkeys typing out Shakespeare.

And, really, there's a page out there that is entirely comprised of the previous president's expressions being compared those of chimps.

Isn't it racists to assume malice because the president is black? The guy could simply be stating his view of the value of the economic stimulus package. It seems a lot like people looking for Teh Drama where there isn't any. If this comic had been published two years ago no one would have said a word.

said jmanna on February 21, 2009 12:53 PM.

Yea, I had thought the monkey was congress too. Usually, political cartoons like this that aren't clear enough go the extra mile to label what the thing is supposed to represent.

However, there's a long history of comparing black people to monkeys in Africa. There's also a history of police shooting first and asking questions later. Often the victims are also black. So the cartoon is pulling a lot of imagery here that is racist.

But there's a lot of confusing stuff in the cartoon. The pole has a sign that appears to say "Beware of Dog". What's that about? Is it part of the point? I don't know if the cartoon is racist or not. I think it's just a bad cartoon. Somebody should have rejected it somewhere along the line or made it more clear or something.

said Doug on February 21, 2009 1:10 PM.

my interpretation is as follows:
the stimulus bill is so very stupid/idiotic that only a chimp could have written it. because no human being is that stupid/idiotic. the chimp represents the intellect of the writer of the bill and possibly anyone who supports it. It is a comment of the intellect (or lack thereof) of the writer of the bill, not the race of the president. The fact that it is a chimp ties in with another recent news story and (as such) is topical and timely.

said copycat042 on February 21, 2009 1:47 PM.

You hit the nail on the head there, Teafizz. What was in the mind of the artist/satirist when he created this cartoon is key to knowing exactly how offensive it is.

Unfortunately, there are many artists that knowingly create this type of controversial artwork then don the 'interpretation cloak'; leaving the mystery of its true intent and, ultimately, the guilt over its offensiveness to originate within the mind of the viewer. Sometimes, it has a positive effect by getting people to expand their scope, rethink old habits and instill new behaviors. I don't see that here.

In this case, I have to ask ... if this is not a portrayal of Obama, then what does it portray? JW talks about symbolism. I offer that the monkey has come to symbolize something in some parts of our society ... albeit for the worse. The use of the monkey here has clear implications to many people. It seems that it is this shameful symbolism that the artist is trying to tap into and expose. To me, that is shameful in itself.

Sorry, but I really can't see that it is to be interpreted any other way. I am offended by this piece, not only for what I believe it to represent, but what I interpret as its intent.

Is anyone here familiar with this person's previous work? Is this person a known instigator?

Why do I keep hearing Woody Woodpecker?

said Tim on February 21, 2009 2:26 PM.

I think truly shows how ignorant people can be. Congress wrote the stimulus package not Obama, and let's be honest - they are acting like the chimp on Xanax recently shot by the cops.

I'm at a loss how as to how anybody could assume that the Chimp is supposed to be Obama. Either they are an idiot or they were looking for a racial issue to begin with.

said VikingBerserker on February 21, 2009 2:29 PM.

I think the ape probably is Congress. Usually in the political cartoons there is in indicator, a sign or label or something, that identifies what the drawing means. A Congress hat on the chimp might have avoided all the noise.

said Johnny Wright on February 21, 2009 2:51 PM.

Amen, JW ... and that is exactly my point. The fact that the chimp is not specifically identified as Congress labels this cartoon as suspect. If the cops were gunning down several chimps, there would be no discussion of racism. (It would be the animal rights activists out in force.) It was deliberate.

It's not like this kind of political satire is new to publishing and the boundaries are just being established. This was meant to be vague.

Look at all the buzz it has generated ... nothing generates free advertising better than a good buzz.

said Tim on February 21, 2009 3:24 PM.

I'm offended that so many people assumed that the cartoonist intended that the chimp symbolize our president. "Oh, a chimp, it must be a stand in for a black guy." Yuck. Do they really think that there is anything simian about Obama? Having that said, it is a stupid cartoon and somebody in the editorial department should have figured out that somebody wouldn't know the mad chimp news story and would draw the racist connection.

said Cathy on February 21, 2009 3:32 PM.

I didn't know about the Xanax chimp story, or about this cartoon until I saw this post and read VikingBerserker's comment and went looking for more info.

I think it's pretty obvious. The cartoonist is basically saying that the stimulus bill is so badly done it could have been written by a chimp on Xanax. The cartoon presumes that the reader knows about the chimp story though.

I don't see anything intended to be racist here at all. Of course I don't equate monkeys with anything other than flinging poo and making eepeep noises.

said Annadeus on February 21, 2009 3:32 PM.

"Flinging poo..." Hee hee.


said Johnny Wright on February 21, 2009 3:45 PM.

I think it's a lame joke. I think it's funny that Spike Lee wants a boycott of the Post now. Fight the Power Spike!

said E on February 21, 2009 4:04 PM.

the day before this thing ran a monkey mauled it's owner to death, here in the Bronx. The police had to shoot the monkey & put it down. It happened the same day the stimulus bill was signed. So that's the frame of reference I believe the artist was using. Obviously it was a stupid thing to do &, like one of the commenters above me said, I can't believe none of the editors thought twice about publishing it.
Even though I got the reference when I read the cartoon, I still think it was in poor choice.

said Baierman on February 21, 2009 5:33 PM.

Somebody in the Bronx has a pet monkey and they give it xanax? What is going on there in EnWhy these days?

said E on February 21, 2009 5:39 PM.

Baier - But this was published in the Post ... they definitely push the envelope from time to time, but are they typically this careless?

said Tim on February 21, 2009 6:26 PM.

Wow... does your open bigotry mean that southerners are not welcome here?

said Jim Strathmeyer on February 21, 2009 6:49 PM.

I'm really surprised so many of you are discussing this story without giving more weight to the context. As Baierman said , the day before a chimpanzee in Connecticut had ripped the face and hands of a woman in her home after a frantic 911 call that was aired on every news station. The chimp then went after a Policeman in a cruiser who had shot and killed it. It was huge news, it was very prominent on CNN.com, and this was clearly a reference to that. The cops are not gunning down several chimps in the cartoon because there was only one psychopathic chimp on the loose that week.

Now, given that, I'm still trying to figure out what the artist actually meant. That the docile democrats have turned on their keepers unexpectedly after so many years of playing the pet? That the GOP is there to protect the population? *shrug*

Looks to me like the artist took a one current event and sloppily applied it to another. But I honestly think any accusation of racism here is just knee-jerk overreaction.

said Scaramouch on February 21, 2009 7:32 PM.

Tim, I think they realized very quickly that they stepped in it. & I do think the post is that careless. It's about one step above the national enquirer.

said Baierman on February 21, 2009 7:44 PM.

I understand what you are saying, Scaramouch, but I still question the intent. It seems to me that the Post would have known the potential here ... otherwise, you're asking me to believe that they published something without realizing how controversial it could become. Isn't sensationalism their forte?

said Tim on February 21, 2009 7:46 PM.

Welcome back JW!!!

said Baierman on February 21, 2009 8:10 PM.

Love stirring the pot, brother.

I loved that Jim said I'm bigoted because I disagree with the symbolism of the Confederate flag. Never been called that before. Good times.

said Johnny Wright on February 21, 2009 8:16 PM.

It was a chimpanzee in CT apparently. I guess that's less weird than a monkey the Bronx. I just listened to a couple minutes of the 911 call. Thanks for the heads up Scara.
1. Who the fuck gets a 175-200 pound chimp as a pet?
2. She refers to it as her 'son'. WTF?

That was one fucked up call. She calls 911 and asks them to hurry over to her house to shoot her son/chimp who is killing her friend. And she says 'hurry' and 'shoot him' over and over and over like that'll help.


said E on February 21, 2009 8:22 PM.

Yeah, E, the story is really weird. The chimp's, uh, mother seems a little crazy-go-nuts.

said Johnny Wright on February 21, 2009 8:26 PM.

On a side note ... for those amongst us that think it smacks of racism to view the monkey in this cartoon as a symbol for Obama, you can now list Spike Lee and the NAACP as racists.


said Tim on February 21, 2009 8:38 PM.

I think it's racist to call Spike Lee a racist. Just ask him.

said E on February 21, 2009 8:43 PM.

It seems that The Post has the whole country running in circles on this one. A strong majority of people seem to be either offended and not sure why, or not offended and wondering why.

Unintended or not, it just might be the best advertising The Post has ever had.

said Tim on February 21, 2009 8:45 PM.

E - I don't think we're supposed to be talking about this.

said Tim on February 21, 2009 8:46 PM.

Tim, we are having the conversation about race that the Attourney General (sp?) said we as cowardly Americans have been avoiding. I feel so much better now.

said E on February 21, 2009 8:48 PM.

Seriously? I missed that masterpiece. When was that little bit of wisdom shared?

Seems to me that some Americans have been trying to talk about racism for 150 years or so.

said Tim on February 21, 2009 9:22 PM.

Right, Conneticut. My bad.

Least this outcry is more civil than that Netherlands comic that had Mohammad in it a few years ago. (Well so far it is)

said Baierman on February 21, 2009 9:54 PM.

Here you go Tim -

I say we stick Ann Coulter and Spike Lee in a room and, you know, see what happens.

said E on February 21, 2009 9:57 PM.

I'm going to jump on the "really, no editor at the post saw where this might be taken as racist" bandwagon. My belief is someone fell asleep at the helm, because what business north of the Mason-Dixon line (an intentional ribbing of the south) would knowingly publish a racist cartoon.

My first glance at the cartoon left me baffled as to where the joke was, what they were getting at. I never associated the monkey with congress either. The wording said, "...someone to write..." so I was thinking singular, with only one person to associate with the package.

I understand that Obama didn't actually write the stimulus package, but again, it's a cartoon...if one monkey can represent an entire congress, then the signer of the stimulus package can be labeled the writer.

I wonder if Gary Larson ever had these types of days.

said Paul on February 21, 2009 10:04 PM.

Baierman, the Mohammad cartoon brou-ha-ha happened in Denmark.

E, my guess is that they start off fighting, but they'd soon get down to dirty monkey sex (and I mean that in a completely non-racist way).

said TeaFizz on February 21, 2009 10:11 PM.

Good one Tea. If it was a movie we could call it Mandigo II Electric Boogaloo.

said E on February 21, 2009 10:18 PM.

Ann Coulter. Great. That tells me all I need to know ... no sensationalism there.

... and I'm game for a dirty monkey sex thread discussion anytime. Let's get a few more ladies to hang around first, though. (and I mean that in a completely non-judgmental-on-ones-sexual-orientation way.)

said Tim on February 21, 2009 10:21 PM.

This is going so well that I propose a caption contest. Honestly, I think we can do better. Whadd'ya say gentlemen? Who has the YBNBY photoshop skills to crop out the caption, repost (perhaps the Forums need a little pick-me-up) and let us submit away?

said Tim on February 21, 2009 10:25 PM.

TeaFizz is bringing it this weekend.

said Johnny Wright on February 21, 2009 10:30 PM.

Tim, your wish is my command.

said Scaramouch on February 21, 2009 11:05 PM.

One measure of the "inappropriateness" of the cartoon, is the fact that many employees of the New York Post, including some of the editors, are unhappy about it:

said gnatster on February 22, 2009 12:13 AM.

Regardless of the intentions of the cartoonist, the cartoon brushes against two taboos in American culture: (1) black people as apes, and (2) dead presidents. I'm sure the editors of the New York Post had a discussion about these two issues, but yet decided to publish anyway... and then apologize later. And besides, the cartoonist has a (mostly anti-gay) reputation:

said gnatster on February 22, 2009 12:30 AM.

Great research, gnatster. This is exactly what I am talking about.

said Tim on February 22, 2009 12:38 AM.

Atta kid, gnatster.

said Johnny Wright on February 22, 2009 9:05 AM.

The racists are the people who ASSUME the monkey represents Obama.

said No Body on February 22, 2009 3:21 PM.

?? So if you are anti gay, you are also a racist? That is absurd.

1) It's a chimpanzee and not an ape
2)I'm also not aware of any President being "assasinated" by the police.

Let's assume you are correct and the dead chimp represents Obama. Explain the logic of the cartoon?

I think people are so ready to get offended by things that they jump before they think

said VikingBerserker on February 22, 2009 4:34 PM.

Chimpanzees are apes. Same thing.

said Johnny Wright on February 22, 2009 4:51 PM.

A shitty cartoon by a shitty individual. Way to give him the attention he so desperately craves everyone. good job.

said Sheriff Pablo on February 22, 2009 9:06 PM.

To "VikingBerserker": I'm not claiming that this is MY interpretation. I'm just saying that the editors of the New York Post published this cartoon knowing that some people, no MANY people, would have this interpretation (including their own employees and editors).

Also with reference to the comment that "The racists are the people who ASSUME the monkey represents Obama": well, I'm sure this cartoon has provided much aid and comfort to white supremacists everywhere.

said gnatster on February 23, 2009 12:31 AM.

It ISN"T Obama, people! No way, no how! Only a racist would ASSUME that a cartoon of a rabid monkey "obviously" represents the president, when it explicitly identifies the dangerous, rabid monkey as the author of the bill. If the Monkey represents anyone, it represents Pelosi.

It's pretty obvious that most liberals are racist, if they think this cartoon is portraying Obama, or if it means anything other than the obvious:

A rabid monkey that was shot by cops could have done a better job of WRITING the bill than congress. Note to a politically illiterate public: the President does not WRITE bills. He signs them.

It is all in the picture. This reminds me of the Mohammed cartoon "controversy" from a few years ago, which wasn't a controversy until some imam told his followers to get up in arms.

So which imam told you that this cartoon was about Obama, when it is explicitly about the writer of the stimulus plan, not the signer?

Sheesh. I'd expect the readers of this site to be better than mindless followers.

said Don't Swayze Bro on February 23, 2009 11:37 AM.

PS - And shame on Johnny for failing to link to the perfectly non-racist monkey-related story that inspired the cartoon in the first place. Cops vs. Face-eating Monkeys used to be his signature tale. What did those monkeys do to you on hiatus, Johnny? It's okay. Its safe to talk about now...


said Don't Swayze Bro on February 23, 2009 2:19 PM.

NOT Racism. George Carlin used to say anything is funny. I couldn't agree more. As for Sharpton, he's had a bone to pick with the cartoonist because the cartoonist has poked fun at his worthless ass. It was a political jab mixing a current event (the monkey getting shot) and a giant bill that may or may not work. It's the press, let them have some freedom, to report, to parody and to shed light.... and can we stop demanding people get fired, unemployment is high enough. The paper apologized (even that drives me crazy, they published it with good intent, why apologize to a bunch of idiots!?) now move on and go find the next act of nonexistent racism. I swear the Reverend King is spinning uncontrollably in his grave at what the activist movement has become. It is a time to rejoice, because having our new president gives us all hope, regardless of his color...

said bingowas on February 27, 2009 12:54 PM.
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