Today’s New York Post, a tabloid paper owned by Rupert Murdoch, published an editorial cartoon that shows two cops talking, standing over a chimpanzee they’ve just shot (a reference to this recent story in nearby Connecticut). The caption reads, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill,” a clearly racist jab at President Obama, comparing him to the chimpanzee. You can see the image here (h/t to Emery Graham, Jane Adams, Andrea Siegel, Jerry Krause, Eric Margolis and all the good folks on the IVSA listserv).
The cartoon is created by Sean Delonas, who as Hamilton Nolan at Gawker notes, has a rich history of creating similarly vile, loathsome cartoons.
As I’ve pointed out here before, racist jokes and cartoons are nothing new, and indeed, racist cartoons and jokes were a consistent strategy used by detractors to Obama’s campaign. In fact, Obama’s presidency has created a whole new category of racist jokes and cartoons. A Google search of “racist Obama jokes” today yields 1,910,000 results; a similar search for “racist Obama cartoons,” yields 1, 050,000 results.
What’s really remarkable here is that this particular racist cartoon is not just getting published on some individual’s website dedicated to racist “humor,” but in fact, it is being published by a major (albeit, tabloid) newspaper in New York City. Rev. Al Sharpton gets is right when he says that the cartoon is “troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys.” (An aside about Rev. Al: Y’all can say what you will about Rev. Al, but living in New York City and seeing him at most of the same rallies I go to and hearing him on local news, he gets it right more often than he gets it wrong. In the national mainstream press, he’s regularly treated with derision, but I have a lot of respect for him.) In fact, I think he doesn’t go quite far enough here. What’s also troubling about this particular image is the not-so-subtle threat (again) to President Obama’s life and the similar way in which this cartoon legitimates the police-shootings of so many young, black and brown men on the streets of New York City and beyond. Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, anyone? It doesn’t matter though, they were just “monkeys” – as one of the commenters on this blog referred to Oscar Grant just a few weeks ago. For those of you who might be new to studying and understanding how dehumanization works, one of the first steps is comparing human beings to animals. This makes their mistreatment, torture, and murder easier to accept. It’s an especially effective tool when a major newspaper runs images that dehumanize whole categories of people.
And, perhaps not surprisingly, the Post is standing behind the cartoon. New York Post Editor-in-Chief Col Allan said:
“The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington’s efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist.”
Right, so Rev. Al is an opportunist and therefore Allan doesn’t have to take anything he says seriously. Well, I have a feeling there are going to be a lot more people outraged about this one.
If you’re in the New York City area, and want to get involved in a protest about this, there’s one tomorrow, Thursday, 2/19 at noon, at the midtown offices of the New York Post, 1211 6th Ave., between 47th and 48th Streets. Rev. Al and I will be there.
The underlying racism in this cartoon is racist and sad. I agree with you about Rev. Sharpton–he does a lot of work that most people don’t want to hear about, let alone do. I have the utmost respect for him.
My thoughts are in line with what was said above: “In fact, I think he doesn’t go quite far enough here. What’s also troubling about this particular image is the not-so-subtle threat (again) to President Obama’s life and the similar way in which this cartoon legitimates the police-shootings of so many young, black and brown men…”. And the point of dehumanization is very important–but I cannot think of a term off hand, but problematic too is the belief that humans are superior in nature to all–a core component of racism in my humble opinion. Historical defintions of “who” is human, “how much” human a person is, etc. , Who are worthy humans. And then dehumanization.
On a different note–she had absolutely no business having a chimp in her home…particularly at the adolescent age….*close*
It is important to emphasize that the intention of the cartoonist is irrelevant. What is relevant is how this cartoon contributes to the reproduction of the system of white supremacy.
And, further, there is empirical research that demonstrates that even when whites are not familiar with the historical stereotypical associations between blacks and apes, they make this implicit association (see http://melissajwms.googlepages.com/GoffEberhardtWilliamsJackson2008JPSP.pdf
This research was previously discussed by Jessie: http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2008/02/12/not-yet-human-new-research-on-implicit-racism/
So the historical claims that Sharpton is making can be further supported by this research, making it difficult to deny that this cartoon has racist implications.
David’s cites and similar studies show that Jefferson’s view of blacks as ape-inclined are still with this. In one study, nonblack college students who were exposed to black faces were quicker in recognizing hazy drawings of apes than those who were not thus exposed to black faces. In a second study researchers found that whites who were subliminally primed with ape images subsequently paid more attention to black faces than to white faces that they were shown. Those not so primed paid more attention to white faces. In a third study white male students presented with black and Asian faces were again more likely to attend to black than to Asian faces when they were primed subliminally with ape images. The association between black faces and apes was thus shown not to be a general white orientation to all nonwhite faces, but mainly to black faces. In a fourth study using overt questions about racial stereotypes, less than ten percent of the white college students in their sample said that they actually knew about the old apelike stereotype of black Americans, yet these white students were still faster in associating stereotypically black names with apes than with big cats, although the big cats are more associated publicly with Africa and violence than are apes.
In these recent research studies, a remarkably strong association between ape images and black images was found in many white minds. I have citations in my new book that will be out in a few months, The White Racial Frame.
Wishing we could join you & Al in the city tomorrow. We love him in our house.
‘ The Birth of a Nation ‘ meme all over again. Dayyuum! This sickness will never end. Hmmm? Only euthansia can help them. hehe
Remember the “Curious George” (A little monkey) tee-shirts during the primary campaign that were being sold by this fellow in Georgia. So when folks try to insinuate that they were talking about the US congress because it was they actually wrote bill, they are being completely dishonest, or cowardly, as AG Eric Holder rightly points out.
“Jessie & Al,” shut up and sit down! “Joe” [comment #4] you are a dunce. “The proper study of man is man,” not calculations from lab monkeys & rats. “Allan” is right that “Al” is an opportunist—I know because I coined the term “subliminal racism” and can smell a plagiarist and a race card pimp, like “Al,” hijacking my metaphor and literary property. Want more “blood & excrement”? Go to:
Arthur…I would suggest before my vulgarity gets the best of me….
Would you please interpret the following: “The UK and Black America are in the same boat” (the 7th paragraph) and, “Yes, most Britons would like to be America’s friend, but no Briton would worth their salt would like to be America’s slave…”?
Seattle #11: I asked Mr. Bentley to respond … he is the “Briton” who wrote the “preface” [pp. 1-3] in JIMP … [C-#10] … a 77 page report.