I'd hate to see this one drift off into the ether without it being posted on TBP, so it's now the question of the day. What do you all think about the New Yorker's "Obama is a secret Muslim" cover? Good satire or bad? Racist or not? Islamophobic or not? Was the Obama camp's response appropriate or not?
About that New Yorker cover
Here are a few reactions I wanted to highlight.
- From the Seattle P-I:
- From the awesome political imagery blog, BAGNewNote:
What you're probably not going to see much of elsewhere, on the other hand, is the actual "what" of what's wrong here. Here's my list:
1. Set in an Oval Office the revolutionaries have cleared of the desk (because revolutionaries don't do desks, so much as lairs), the self congratulations -- especially at this early, pre-convention stage of the campaign -- ascribes a massive sense of entitlement to the Obamas.
2. Minus the eye contact of the actual fist bump in St. Paul (and adding the arched eyebrows), Angela Davis Obama's expression is transformed from "I love you" to "You're SUCH an evil genius, baby ... and no one ever caught on!"
3. Besides Barack's pursed lips -- which have turned into code in the MSM for this arrogant (read: "uppity") black man -- the most damning element in this illustration, by far, is Obama's eye. The furtiveness lends the perfect Machiavellian effect, and the fact it's directed our way suggests we should really know better what this guy is up to.
4. Of course, the gun, the ammo clip, the cammo pants and the crossed legs (like crossed fingers) suggest what an angry, war-like creature Michelle is.
5. It's not just that Old Glory is on fire ("thank Allah I can finally toss that damn pin!"), the crumpled flag at floor level is reminiscent of the flag good old Bill Ayers was stepping on.[...]
In hitting the trifecta here, many will argue this illustration is simply a satiric representation of the sophomoric attacks being tossed at Obama from far right field.
If that's all there was to it, though, than why do I sense Rove is chortling tonight?
The reason -- besides the fact that the New Yorker demographic is a pretty narrow one -- is that visually-based racial, religious and character-based framing does carry cognitive weight across a spectrum of higher- and lower-level reasoning, and, more than anything, it gains strength and veracity through repetition.
So, forget about "don't think of an elephant." Try not thinking about the guy's name in the turban-thing without not thinking about his brother's name in the portrait behind him.
- From the creator of Tom the Dancing Bug:
But it's actually less clear what the satirical intent of The New Yorker cartoon is. It just shows an America-hating, terrorist President Obama. Of course, I'm certain Blitt intended to make fun of people's paranoid perceptions of Obama, not how leftist/radical/Muslim Obama is. But that's because I've seen his cartoons before, and because I know what could or couldn't be the stance of The New Yorker. But if this same cartoon were created by Sean Delonas and published by The New York Post, I'd think it was satirizing Obama himself, and that's a very different (opposite) point -- it would be tasteless and offensive.
A cartoon shouldn't rely on the context of its creator and publisher in order to successfully make its point. Some more indicators should have been utilized in the cartoon in order to make the target of its satire clearer.
- Alexa at NION:
What message do the heated denials and debates send out to Arab Americans, and to our own children, when Barack Obama is challenged about being "as far as I know" (not Muslim)?
Do you identify with a political candidate's faith as a reason to vote for or against? Do you think, as I do, that faith (or lack thereof) has no place in politics? Mark Twain once said "never trust a man who prays in public" and I tend to agree.
Faith (or lack thereof) is very personal. I would actually prefer not to know a candidate's belief (or nonbelief) system. It won't influence my vote and it won't change my own beliefs and my own faith. A little too much information for me, but I'll keep my objections on the dolo until someone else's faith is looked askance.
No matter what you think you know about Muslims, here's a news flash: They aren't any different than you or I.
Senator Obama's advisors haven't addressed this well at all. I believe it's been called the "biggest smear" against him as a candidate. I understand that it may be a rumor they want to categorically, unequivocally deny, because doing so might possibly keep the rumor wildfires at bay.
- From Pat Buchanan:
Why did progressives recoil? Because the more savvy among them sense that, like much humor, this cartoon was an exaggeration that contained no small kernel of recognizable truth.
After all, Barack did dump the flag pin. Michelle did say she had never been proud of her country before now. Barack did don that Ali Baba outfit in Somalia. His father and stepfather were Muslims. He does have a benefactor, Bill Ayers, who said after 9-11 he regrets not planting more bombs in the 1960s. He did have a pastor who lionizes Black Muslim Minister Louis Farrakhan. Put glasses on him, and Barack could play Malcolm X in the movies.
And assume the point of the cartoon had been to satirize the Obamas. Why would that have been so outrageous?
Journalists, after all, still celebrate Herblock, the cartoonist who portrayed Richard Nixon with the body of a rat climbing out of a sewer.[...]
For it suggests that Obama is an untouchable to be protected. As an African-American, he is not to be treated the same as other politicians. Remnick and Hertzberg obviously felt intense moral pressure to remove any suspicion that they had satirized the Obamas. No problem, however, if they were mocking the American right.
Bottom line: If you wish to stay in the good graces of the cultural elite, don't mess with Michelle and Barack.
- And the snootiest one of all, the New Yorker's editor, David Remnick:
Then again, am I surprised that the editor of the New Yorker is kind of a snob?