Barack Obama, the Muslim stain, and the New Yorker

So let’s see now, what do we have here?

Oh look! There’s President Barack Obama in Muslim garb, giving the fabled “fist bump” to his beloved wife Michelle, who is suddenly sporting an Angela Davis style afro and carrying what looks to be an AK-47 rifle over her shoulder. Meanwhile an American flag is burning in the White House fireplace and some generic Muslim is featured in a photo on the wall. Perhaps the anonymity is on purpose, meant to encourage a “name your favorite terrorist here” sort of thing. Because Arabs and terrorists, like black people, as we know, tend to all look alike.

We did it, boo!

This sounds ridiculous, right? If your answer was “No, that sounds about right,” then you are an idiot, you were never planning on voting for Obama in the first place, and why are you still here? If your answer was, “Yes, that does sound ridiculous,” then your IQ is still well above that of the vegetables in your freezer and I commend you. If your answer was something along the lines of “Of course that sounds ridiculous, dummy. That’s not the point. The point is that this picture on the cover of the New Yorker magazine was in poor taste and whoever greenlighted that decision to run it should either be fired or severely reprimanded,” well, responding to that may take a few more minutes.

Here’s the thing about satire that I think a lot of folks don’t get, at least if it’s good satire; satire makes its greatest impact by cutting deep. If it makes you go “Holy shit!”, then  chances are it did its job correctly. Yes, those cartoonish, exaggerated images of Obama and his wife were offensive, but the satire would not have worked if they were cute.

Take a closer look; this whole one-frame cartoon is driving a stake through the heart of all the crazy shit that has been said about the Obamas, and by squeezing it all into that single frame it makes it that much more plain how ridiculous it all is. There’s the fist bump, which goes back to the Night of the Fox News Anchor-Barbie suggesting during her live broadcast that maybe it was some sort of terrorist signal. There’s Obama in Muslim garb, harking back to the photo taken of him wearing those threads and all the hubbub it caused. There’s the flag in the fireplace, mocking the flag pin-as-patriotism controversy. And there’s Michelle as Angela, reminding us how she has been portrayed as the angry black female who was never proud of her country until just this year.

Remember the good old days when Obama wasn’t black enough? DAMN that seems like a long time ago…

For me? The cartoon works. Feel free to point your slings and arrows in my direction, but I think it is making a huge mistake to demand that the New Yorker staff cartoonist – or whoever drew this thing – be covered in pig fat and set ablaze at the stake. And yes I know the Obama campaign is said to be “outraged”, and that Obama himself is said to be outraged, but that doesn’t change my mind on the issue and I’m a huge Obama supporter. Because in addition to the fact that this is satire that works, this is the New Yorker, folks. Readers of the New Yorker tend to be pretty damned well-educated (you might even say ‘elite’) which not only places them in Obama’s camp, but it means they are most likely smart enough to understand satire. No self-respecting reader of the New Yorker is going to change his or her vote based on some cover art.

As for those who insist that it’s not only the New Yorker readers who will see this because the image is already around the world (hell it’s even on this blog for Christ’s sake), I still say big deal. Anybody still sitting on the Fence of Judgment who is dumb enough to fall down on the side of McCain because they were scared to death by a big bad cartoon is not somebody who I’m terribly worried about. As cynical as I am, I still believe that even most of my worst enemies and critics are smarter than that.

So lighten up. y’all. Seriously. It’s cool.

And all Power to the People.



~ by Keith A. Owens on July 15, 2008.

2 Responses to “Barack Obama, the Muslim stain, and the New Yorker”

  1. Who cares? Comedians have been joking for years about the ramifications of a black president and this is along those lines. The only reason it would probably offend some is that Steve Harvey didn’t say it.

    Besides, I’d reserve any praises or gripes until I read the article supported by this picture. Anybody who’s heard Obama speak knows that he’s not your average homey/hood rat/baller-shot caller. What I’m most concerned about is how his political perspectives are being discussed.

    People have been discussing so many of Obama’s peripherals and non-essentials during this campaign that it’s overtaken a lot of his policy dialogue. Sure, let’s talk about Obama’s former pastor or the fanny pat he gave his wife. Later for the stuff he’s gonna do that will impact our lives if he wins the election.

    John McCain’s camp has been straight buggin’ over Obama’s trip to Iraq this week, saying it’s “just a political move,” among other things. CAH-MON!!! Of course it’s a political move and a pretty smart one considering that McCain is certainly going to mention how many times he’s gone to Iraq.

    Obama would be considerably disadvantaged in any discussion about Iraq if he couldn’t say he’s been there and his opponent has. Let’s face it: Republicans are great at turning the little stuff into big stuff to avoid dialogue on the important stuff. Obama’s trip to Iraq simply took a potential liability off the table while simultaneously demonstrating that he’s engaged in a topic about which most Americans feel very strongly.

    So yeah, let the New Yorker have its fun. Obama’s gonna have a lot more challenges before November gets here and more than likely, they won’t be very funny at all.

  2. This is a really ineeillgtnt way to answer the question.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: