Friday, February 20, 2009

NY Post Issues Non-Apology For Racist Cartoon

Under the heading "That Cartoon," the New York Post has issued a so-called apology for the racist cartoon, drawn by Sean Delonis, depicting the author of the stimulus package as a dead chimp. 

The Post's "apology" is as follows:

Wednesday's Page Six cartoon - caricaturing Monday's police shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut - has created considerable controversy.

It shows two police officers standing over the chimp's body: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," one officer says.

It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.


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.

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.

To them, no apology is due.

Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.

The above has to be one of the most inadequate, insincere apologies ever written. Nowhere is there an admission of wrongdoing. The Post does not acknowledge that the man most associated with the stimulus package is President Obama, an African American. In addition, The Post does not acknowledge that African-Americans have historically been the subject of racist attacks depicting them as "synonymous with monkeys," as the Reverend Al Sharpton has explained.

Instead, The Post evades responsibility. After refusing to acknowledge the racist imagery, The Post apologizes "to those who were offended." It's all a matter of perception, you see; there are those who just didn't see the Post's harmless "intent" and didn't realize that it's "just a cartoon." According to The Post, they really did nothing wrong, but just in case you've distorted their meaning, they're sorry.

Then there's the reference to "some in the media and public life who have had differences with The Post in the past," a thinly veiled reference to Sharpton, leader of the protests shown in the video above.

Incredibly, the "apology" ends by naming The Post itself as the victim. It is the Post that is the supposed victim of "payback" foisted on them by "opportunists" seeking to make their cartoon "something else." 

In reality, it is The Post that is trying to make the cartoon something else–something other than what is is, an expression of sheer racism.

If this is an "apology," The Post need not have bothered. The only proper response on the part of the public is a boycott of the newspaper until a proper apology is issued.


Tim Gunter said...

Definitely boycott the newspaper. What a filthy rag it must be and I don't live in New York. I don't find cartoons like that in my small town local paper!

Jeff Tone said...

Tim: Only through a boycott can The Post's readers-and I'm decidedly not one of them-make a statement that such a racist cartoon doesn't belong in any paper.

Silent_Majority said...

Please by all means boycott that worhtless rag of newspaper. I find great joy in watching liberals attack a paper that for so long espoused liberal views with a insatiable fervor. I guess now we are getting a clearer view of who the racists are.

Matthew said...

I never saw it as racist to start with - and am bewildered by those who are so excited to play the race card that they will look to a silly cartoon to do so. Well written apology - well worded, well timed, albiet unnecessary, but nice of them to do. Bravo Post - the cartoon displayed how anything with opposable thumbs could have drafted this inadequate bill - and your apology was just enough!

Jeff Tone said...

Silent Majority: The Post has not been liberal for quite a while. It is during its current, right-wing reincarnation that the cartoon was published. So if you want to associate racism with a political point of view–something I wouldn't always do–you'd have to associate it with the paper's current, reactionary stance.

Matthew: The cartoon uses historically racist imagery in reference to a bill associated with our first African-American president. Therefore the negative response has nothing to do with "playing the race card," nor can racism be disregarded because it's displayed in a cartoon. Regarding the "apology," I believe that The Post saw it as "just enough"–i.e., a half-hearted attempt at an apology.

Anok said...

Worst. Apology. Ever.

I didn't find the cartoon to be terribly offensive (although unnecessarily violent - I mean, It's a cartoon for goodness sake. We're long past the days where political cartoons portrayed lynchings and political murders).

But still, that is the worst apology I've ever read.

"We're sorry, not because the cartoon was over the top, but because you were too stupid to interpret it our way, and didn't like it, "

That's what that apology says. *shakes head and laughs*

Jeff Tone said...

Anok: We're in agreement over the pathetic apology, but I also found the cartoon offensive. It was not just over the top because of the violence, but also due to the historically racist imagery.

Anok said...

I definitely agree that it could be construed that way - certainly, but I honestly don't think that was the original intent. I think the cartoonist was simply unaware that the satire s/he was going for would backfire so horribly.

In other words it was stoooopid, if you know what I mean.

fleud said...

Quite a response to your Post (newspaper) blog. Biggest ever? Giving them the benefit of the doubt, those who don't see the "cartoon" as racist must not be aware of the historic association of African Americans with simians by racists. In fact, one of the cops who arrested and beat Rodney King made a reference to”Gorillas in the Mist” regarding a domestic violence incident in volving two blacks. The comment was later used against the cop, Michael Powell, in King’s trial. The Post incident is just the latest in a shameful "tradition".

I saw Julian Bond on Olbermann's "Countdown" the other day. He said, and I agree with him, that the "cartoon" is an "invitation to assassinate" (I think those were his words)Pres. Obama.

And to think that the Post was founded by Alexander Hamilton. He's spinning in his grave.

Dana Seilhan said...

I wonder who the hell really thinks this couldn't be racist? Are they playing dumb or something? Jesus. This must be more of that crap where Northerners and Westerners are just as racist as Southerners but aren't as blatant about it. They think that because they don't sling around the N-bomb, that lets them off the hook.


I guess I'm fortunate. I'm a white Southerner. So I heard the blatant racism growing up, and I know exactly how racist whites think of black people. Right down to the monkey and ape jokes.

So I "got" the Post cartoon right away. Understood they were calling the President a chimp. Do not buy the Post's apology one. fucking. iota.

They should be ashamed of themselves, and so should everyone who's defended them, right down to the liberals who wanted to give these shitheads the benefit of the doubt. Don't. Please don't. They don't deserve it. They knew exactly what they were saying. This is why right-wingers continue getting away with their garbage. Because we want to believe they're still anything resembling human beings. God knows we've given them enough time and space to prove that and you know, they still haven't.

To think they jumped all over Reverend Wright's butt for saying "God damn America for behaving badly." Didn't call anyone an animal, didn't make jokes about killing anyone. The nerve.

Jeff Tone said...

Dana: I wouldn't deny that right wingers are human beings, and I wasn't exactly crazy about Reverend Wright's comments. Nevertheless, I'm glad to have the perspective of a white Southerner such as yourself, and I agree that the cartoon was a blatant example of Northern racism.

James said...

A well written apology for those otherwise offended. Rock on. Delonis your voice no matter how received is a protected right. Hey folks, "America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours." or is that only when you Liberals are spouting your agenda, Whats good for the goose and all that. So, suck it up its just going to get worse.

Jeff Tone said...

James: The apology isn’t well written because it isn’t a real apology. It’s an attempt to evade responsibility for the racism expressed and to play the victim.

Sure, Delonis has the right to hold racist opinions and to draw whatever he wants. When The Post chooses to publish his cartoon, however, it is promoting and advocating racism. The only way to disavow the racism and to state that hatred against a particular group is not the policy of the paper is to publish a genuine apology. If The Post doesn’t want to do that, then, yes, that is its free choice–but that choice will only affirm that the paper is indeed racist. The readers can then make their own choice to protest and to advocate a boycott of the paper–forms of free speech that are also protected in our democracy.