The day after President Obama signed the stimulus bill, his first major piece of legislation, the New York Post ran a cartoon depicting the bill’s author as a dead monkey, covered in blood after being shot by police.
In the face of intense criticism, The Post‘s editor is standing by the cartoon, claiming it has no racial undertones, that it’s not about Obama, and that it was simply referencing an incident earlier this week when police shot a pet chimpanzee (an argument that pundits and analysts simply aren’t buying).1
It’s impossible to believe that any newspaper editor could be ignorant enough to not understand how this cartoon evokes a history of racist symbolism, or how frightening this image feels at a time when death threats against President Obama have been on the rise.
Please join us in demanding that The Post apologize publicly and fire the editor who allowed this cartoon to go to print:
The Post would have us believe that the cartoon is not about Obama. But on the page just before the cartoon appears, there’s a big picture of Obama signing the stimulus bill.2 A reader paging through The Post would see Obama putting pen to paper, then turn the page to see this violent cartoon. The imagery is chilling.
There is a clear history in our country of racist symbolism that depicts Black people as apes or monkeys, and it came up multiple times during the presidential campaign.3
We’re also in a time of increased race-based violence. In the months following President Obama’s election there has been a nationwide surge in hate crimes ranging from vandalism to assaults to arson on Black churches.4,5 There has been an unprecedented number of threats against President Obama since he was elected,6 with hate-based groups fantasizing about the killing of the president. Just a week ago, a man drove from Louisiana to the Capitol with a rifle, telling the police who stopped him that he had a “delivery” for the president.7
There is no excuse for The Post to have allowed this cartoon to be printed, and even less for Editor Col Allan’s outright dismissal of Black concerns.
But let’s be clear about who’s behind The Post: Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch, the Post‘s owner, is the man behind FOX News Channel. FOX has continually attacked and denigrated Black people, politicians, and institutions at every opportunity, and we’ve run several campaigns to make clear how FOX poisons public debate.8
We don’t expect much from Murdoch. However, with enough public pressure we can set the stage for advertisers and subscribers to think long and hard before patronizing outlets like the Post that refuse to be held accountable.
You can help by making it clear that the Post’s behavior is unacceptable, and by asking your friends and family to do the same. It only takes a minute:
— James, Gabriel, Clarissa, William, Dani and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
February 19th, 2009–
1. “NY Post Defends Cartoon, Slams Al Sharpton,” Huffington Post, 2-18-2009
2. “Obama Photo Preceded Cartoon Of Gunned Down Chimp,” Huffington Post, 2-18-2009
3. “‘Curious George’ Obama Shirt Causes Uproar,” CBS News, 5-15-2008
4. “Post-Racial USA? Not So Fast.” Associated Press, 11-15-2008
5. “Arson seen in post-election fire at black church in Springfield,” Boston Globe, 11-8-2008
6. “Obama never worries about his security despite record number of threats,” Daily Mail, 11-27-2008
7. “Winnfield man with rifle said he had ‘delivery’ for Obama,” The Advocate, 2-11-2009
8. ColorOfChange.org campaign — “Dancing with the Devil”