Economics

See Monkey, Go Berserk

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Last week Nick Gillespie said he was beginning to suspect he was "overly optimistic" in thinking "one hope for an Obama presidency is that it ends the worst sort of racial discourse in America." Here's another piece of evidence in favor of despair:

A New York Post cartoon that some have interpreted as comparing President Barack Obama to a violent chimpanzee gunned down by police drew outrage Wednesday from civil rights leaders and elected officials who said it echoed racist stereotypes of blacks as monkeys.

The cartoon in Wednesday's Post by Sean Delonas shows two police officers, one with a smoking gun, standing over the body of a bullet-riddled chimp. The caption reads: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."

The cartoon refers to a chimpanzee named Travis who was killed Monday by police in Stamford, Conn., after it mauled a friend of its owner.

At The Huffington Post, Sam Stein offers this analysis:

At its most benign, the cartoon suggests that the stimulus bill was so bad, monkeys may as well have written it. Others believe it compares the president to a rabid chimp. Either way, the incorporation of violence and (on a darker level) race into politics is bound to be controversial.  

For the next four or maybe eight years, I guess, all decent, right-thinking editorial cartoonists will avoid any reference to apes (or crime, sex, laziness, good rhythm, athletic prowess, fried chicken, watermelon, etc.) in drawings that can be seen as critical of the president. But Stein is a paragon of restraint and good sense compared to those "civil rights leaders and elected officials." According to the Associated Press, New York state Sen. Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn) called the cartoon "a 'throwback to the days' when black men were lynched." Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, declared that "to compare the nation's first African-American commander in chief to a dead chimpanzee is nothing short of racist drivel." To no one's surprise, Al Sharpton also weighed in:

The cartoon…is troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys. One has to question whether the cartoonist is making a less than casual reference to this… Being that the stimulus bill has been the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama (the first African American president) and has become synonymous with him, it is not a reach to wonder are they inferring that a monkey wrote the last bill?

Yes, it is, assuming that by "inferring" Sharpton means "implying" and that he thinks Delonas is implying the president (who did not actually write the bill, of course) is a monkey. I, for one, am offended—that critics of the cartoon seem to think the chimpanzee, a great ape and man's closest living relative, is a mere "monkey."