This is the New Yorker's new cover, depicting Barack Obama and his wife Michelle in the Oval Office. It accompanies a big article about how Obama maybe was not always about CHANGE but in fact may have been a skilled Chicago politician at some point. The cover promises to become an election flashpoint, and the presumptive Democratic nominee's campaign has already called it "tasteless and offensive." The caricature, according to the Huffington Post, "combines every smeary right-wing stereotype imaginable" about Obama. Ha ha, as if. Sure, the stereotypes about Obama being a flag-burning terrorist muslim and Michelle being an ashamed-of-America black power revolutionary are all there, but shouldn't Obama somehow also be an aloof Harvard elitist who hates "bitter" working-class whites? Instead, he's in rags and robes, with no jewelry or caviar or sociology texts and so forth. Anyway, the cartoonist said he's trying to mock the stereotypes, not perpetuate them:
I think the idea that the Obamas are branded as unpatriotic [let alone as terrorists] in certain sectors is preposterous. It seemed to me that depicting the concept would show it as the fear-mongering ridiculousness that it is.
Rachel Sklar, who jumped on the story over at the Huffington Post, isn't buying it:
...it's got all the scare tactics and misinformation that has so far been used to derail Barack Obama's campaign - all in one handy illustration. Anyone who's tried to paint Obama as a Muslim, anyone who's tried to portray Michelle as angry or a secret revolutionary out to get Whitey, anyone who has questioned their patriotism- well, here's your image.
Right, because if there's one source right-wing scaremongers love to cite, it's the New Yorker!
Jake Tapper of ABC News agrees with Sklar:
Knowing the liberal politics of the magazine, I believe the magazine's staff when they say the illustration is meant ironically, as a parody of the caricature some conservatives (and some supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.) are painting of the Obamas.
But it's still fairly incendiary, at least as these things go. I wonder what the reaction would be were it the Weekly Standard or the National Review putting such an illustration on their covers.
Intent factors into these matters, of course, but no Upper East Side liberal — no matter how superior they feel their intellect is — should assume that just because they're mocking such ridiculousness, the illustration won't feed into the same beast in emails and other media. It's a recruitment poster for the right-wing.
So participants in important political discussions, especially those who have loud voices by dint of talent, power or medium of publication, should tailor their self-expression in such a way that it can't possibly be misappropriated by extremists! Gee, that sounds familiar.
Well, this is the part in the campaign where we find out who among Barack Obama and his supporters truly do want to set aside the melodramatic hysterics that have cropped up around political dialog in this country over the past seven years, and who is instead destined to join the extreme right in opposing a long and proud American tradition of brazen free speech and rough-and-tumble dialog that have all too often been set aside in recent years in the name of sensitivity — patriotic or otherwise.
Or maybe I'm just touchy because these anti-French-defamation people weren't happy with my own caricature of stereotypes over the weekend. Whatever, talk amongst yourselves!