Not a Joke – Hold the New York Post Accountable
Posted by Fredsvenn den februar 20, 2009
The New York Post recently published the political cartoon shown here, depicting two white police officers standing over the carcass of a bullet-riddled chimpanzee, with the animal representing the author of the stimulus package.
The decision to run this cartoon was irresponsible at best, and hurtful and malicious at worst. It seems unthinkable that an editor of a newspaper would not understand the history of Black folks being depicted as monkeys and apes or the recent spate of death threats against President Obama. Worse, when confronted, Post editor Col Allan dismissed people’s concerns as baseless.
The Post would have us believe that the cartoon is not about Obama. But on the page just before the cartoon appears, there’s a big picture of Obama signing the stimulus bill. A reader paging through the Post would see Obama putting pen to paper, then turn the page to see this violent cartoon. The imagery is chilling.
There is a clear history in the US of racist symbolism that depicts Black people as apes or monkeys, and it came up multiple times during the presidential campaign. The nation is also in a time of increased race-based violence. In the months following President Obama’s election there has been a nationwide surge in hate crimes ranging from vandalism to assaults to arson on Black churches. There has been an unprecedented number of threats against President Obama since he was elected, with hate-based groups fantasizing about the killing of the president. Just a week ago, a man drove from Louisiana to the Capitol with a rifle, telling the police who stopped him that he had a «delivery» for the president.
In the face of intense criticism, the Post’s editor is standing by the cartoon, claiming that it’s not about Obama, has no racial undertones, and that it was simply referencing a recent incident when police shot a pet chimpanzee. But it’s impossible to believe that any newspaper editor could be ignorant enough to not understand how this cartoon evokes a history of racist symbolism, or how frightening this image feels at a time when death threats against President Obama have been on the rise.
There is no excuse for the Post to have allowed this cartoon to be printed, and even less for Editor Col Allan’s outright dismissal of legitimate concerns. But let’s be clear who’s behind the Post: Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch, the Post’s owner, is the man behind FOX News Channel. FOX has continually attacked and denigrated Black people, politicians, institutions at every opportunity, and ColorOfChange has run several campaigns to make clear how FOX poisons public debate.
I don’t expect much from Murdoch. However, with enough public pressure, we can set the stage for advertisers and subscribers to think long and hard before patronizing outlets like the Post that refuse to be held accountable.
Join us in demanding that The Post issue an apology for the decision and their callousness, and fire the editor who allowed this cartoon to go to print.