New Yorker Obama coverWe’ve received the greatest number of comments ever on a single post recently regarding this so let’s continue an examination of the New Yorker’s Obama cover. There seems to be a lot of shrugging and “who me?” and “huh?” over at the New Yorker like they had no idea that releasing this cover depicting the Obamas in a decidedly unfavorable light would be, at best, controversial and at worst, inflammatory.

The New Yorker’s editor, David Remnick, has been quoted saying that “It always occurs to you that things will be misinterpreted or taken out of context — that’s not unusual” and “Normally I’d want the work to speak for itself — normally I’d not want to explain jokes, or short stories, or a piece of non-fiction that we publish — people always read things the way they’re going to read them.” In other words, how dare you demand an explanation from me, you stupid gits! And there’s this gem: “Obviously I wouldn’t have run a cover just to get attention.” Oh, really? Not even to sell more magazines? The New Yorker must be desperate to pull a stunt like this.

At no point does he apologize for offending people. I was appalled and deeply offended by the cover’s content. It’s been interesting to see the bias of the media exposed when they unleash the darkness in their own minds on the public. It also shows how undiverse the New Yorker staff must be since clearly no black person was on board in an senior enough position to say “Whoa there, do you have any idea what’s going to happen to us when people see this”?

Here’s the cover illustrator Barry Blitt on whether, in retrospect and given the public outcry, if he’s still glad he created this racist bit of garbage?

“Retrospect? Outcry? The magazine just came out ten minutes ago, at least give me a few days to decide whether to regret it or not…”

Ugh. So smug and oblivious. Just another shrug of “wha?” And a failure to take responsibility for the impact of their imagery. And again, the failure to apologize to those offended. By the racism. If the New Yorker was smart, they’d have sent an African-American editor on staff out to explain the cover and thus cover some ass. Hmm…guess they must not have any!

Note that in the midst of the controversy, there’s no acknowledgement of the controversy even on their quite recently updated blog The Cartoon Lounge which is billed as: “A guided tour inside the brains of New Yorker cartoonists”. So guess a precious little piece about the dog days of summer illustrating a poodle (today’s post there) must be way more important than addressing the Obama cover and apologizing for it.

In a climate where 12% of Americans already think inaccurately that Obama is Muslim, this just isn’t helpful nor is it appropriate to take a dig so deep at the misperceptions and hate speech where Obama’s most vulnerable in such an arch, snarky, sneering way that manages to attack not only the ignorant but also the Obamas themselves. This cover only serves to perpetuate the racist portrayals we’ve seen in the press. Will the average American standing at newsstands understand that this is satire or will they see it as an accusation or confirmation of their deepest fears? Most Americans can’t tell you where Iraq is on a map nor which countries border the U.S. (these are true facts from National Geographic studies btw). How many will really know the difference?

The only way this cartoon might have been acceptable is as an inside illustration accompanied by a lengthy article matching the cover’s apparent title “The Politics of Fear”. In other words — racial imagery is dangerous under the best, most well-meaning conditions and needs a whole lotta context to have even a chance at not blowing up in your face in an ugly way. Yes, I’m all for free speech. But with rights and freedoms come responsibilities. That’s something the mainstream media seems to have forgotten too many times during Bush’s presidency.

Makes me wanna holler. And then subscribe to the New Yorker just so I can have the satisfaction of unsubscribing. Damn! In lieu of that, my other idea is for all Americans on their next dentist, doctor or therapist appointment to perform the following 5 step National Racial Healing plan:

1. pick up that nasty race-hating cover and rip it into teeny tiny pieces

2. ask to borrow an envelope from the receptionist. Or bring your own!

3. place the ripped up pieces from the cover in the envelope.

4. write a big “No!” or “Racist Much?” on the front of the envelope

5. Send to the New Yorker’s offices in New York. Here’s their address!

The Mail
The New Yorker
4 Times Square
New York, NY 10036

Otherwise, you can take the easy route and just let them know what you think about their “art” via email. Let em have it, y’all:

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