Sunday, March 18, 2012

Republican Racism Example #40: The New York Post Cartoon That Compared Obama To A Chimp

On February 16, 2009, a pet chimpanzee named Travis – later described as “rabid” – attacked a Stamford, Connecticut, woman who was a friend of his owner.  The chimp kept attacking until he was shot multiple times by a Stamford police officer and died.  (For more, see http://articles.cnn.com/2009-02-17/us/chimpanzee.attack_1_charla-nash-chimp-attack-sandra-herold?_s=PM:US). 

To normal people, this story would have no connection to signing the following day of a controversial federal economic “stimulus” bill, which combined tax breaks with government construction projects and aimed at easing the recession newly inaugurated President Barack Obama had inherited from the Bush administration.  That’s unless you are the talentless, unfunny, racist and homophobic cartoonist Sean Delonas of the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper the New York Post.

On March 18, the Post published a Delonas cartoon that showed a police officer holding a smoking gun.  A dead chimpanzee lay on the ground bleeding from bullet wounds.  Another officer says, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.” 


The New York Post claimed this Sean Delonas cartoon was not racist.  (This and other Sean Delomas cartoons in this post from http://gawker.com/5155855/ten-vile-cartoons-from-sean-delonas). 

The stimulus legislation was repeatedly referred to as Obama’s bill throughout January and February.  Either Delonas is a total idiot and is unaware that there has been a long, ugly history of racist whites comparing African Americans to apes and that most readers would assume that the chimpanzee in the cartoon referred to Obama or he’s a crude racist who didn’t care.  Based on his previous work, I suggest a third possibility – that he’s a racist and an idiot.

Comparing the president to an ape has been a favorite motif among Republican racists in the Obama era.  In previous posts, I have documented the following cases:

·      A member of the Orange County, Ca., Republican Party Central Committee sending a email with a picture depicting President Obama as the child of chimpanzees. (http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/01/republican-racism-example-2.html)

·      A Republican Party supporter and CEO of the Tennessee Hospitality Association sending his online friends a message comparing First Lady Michelle Obama to a chimp.  (http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/01/republican-racism-example-3.html)

·      A South Carolina GOP financial supporter and friend of Bush 43 who sent an email claiming that a gorilla who escaped from a nearby zoo was an “ancestor” of Michelle Obama.  (http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/02/republican-racism-example-5.html).

·      A Republican City Council candidate who called for the assassination of the president and his “monkey” children.  (http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/02/republican-racism-example-25.html)

·      A t-shirt worn at Tea Party rallies that depicts Barack Obama as ‘Curious George,” a cartoon monkey who is the hero of several children’s books, a TV series and a movie (http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/03/republican-racism-example-38-rush.html

·      A host of T-Party signs that call Obama a monkey or an ape or depict him as one.  (Photo of a young Tea Party protest below from http://likeawhisper.wordpress.com/anti-obama-protest-signs/ )



The New York Post issued an unusually aggressive form of the non-apology apology – expressing regret if the cartoon offended anyone but not acknowledging that the drawing was intrinsically insulting and racist.  The hyper-conservative and pro-Republican Post, in its mea cupla sans cupla, told its readers that some critics of the cartoon,  like the Democratic activist and sometimes presidential candidate Al Sharpton, attacked Delonas’ cartoon to get even politically.

"Wednesday's Page Six cartoon -- caricaturing Monday's police shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut -- has created considerable controversy,” the Post statement read.  The “apology” then said that point of the cartoon was that the stimulus bill had been ineptly written, as if it had been typed by a chimpanzee.  "But it has been taken as something else -- as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism.  This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize."

The Post then immediately eliminated any limited good will it might have generated by attacking many of those were aggrieved by the stupid cartoon.  “However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past -- and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback," the statement read. "To them, no apology is due. Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon -- even as the opportunists seek to make it something else."  (See http://articles.cnn.com/2009-02-19/us/chimp.cartoon.apology_1_stimulus-bill-sean-delonas-rev-al-sharpton?_s=PM:US)

Unfortunately, the Post  apology has no credibility since Delonas long ago firmly established himself as an artist who routinely and degradingly dehumanizes gays and other racial groups. 


There’s the time Delonas, picking up a theme from Rick Santorum, compared gay marriage to human sheep:



And there’s the time he portrayed all gays as effeminate crossdressers:



Or the time he portrayed all Arab Americans as terrorists who objected to having their civil liberties trampled on only because they had criminal activity to hide:


Or the time Delonas portrayed Arab terrorists as cheering when the Democrats won the 2006 off-year elections:

Even if you are in denial about Delonas’ bigotry and want to pretend that compiring Obama to an ape is not racist, I defy you to find a single one of his cartoons that is wise, humorous or entertaining.  If you can’t, then what exactly is the purpose of the Post having Delonas as a cartoonist? 

In spite of this cartoon, Delonas’ job was never in jeopardy at the Republican mouthpiece newspaper, even though many staffers apparently hated the cartoon and were disgusted by its publication.  The newspaper did fire Sandra Guzman, a courageous editor who publicly condemned the cartoon.  In modern-day journalism, courage rarely goes unpunished.  In defense of the Post, that newspaper has nothing to do with journalism.




Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

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