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Yesterday I wrote about the white gaze. Then later when I checked the news what did I see? We knew this one was just a matter of time:

stimuluschimpcartoonIt is a Sean Delonas cartoon from the New York Post, the top-selling newspaper in New York. It shows the police shooting a chimpanzee dead, something that was in the news. But then one of the two policemen says, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.” President Obama had just signed the stimulus bill into law, as shown on the page before, and said we might need another one.

Some say the chimp stands for Congress, the Democrats or Washington, but it makes more sense that it is Obama: most people assume he wrote the bill or had it written under his direction. Also, white Americans have been comparing blacks to monkeys since who knows when and Obama is black.

This is an excellent example of white gaze: The picture places you with the white people in it – you are the third (presumably white) policeman – and it views people of colour as less than fully human – as a monkey in this case.

I thought the New York Post had more sense than to print a racist cartoon – especially one about the president – even if the Post is a right-wing newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch, the one who brings us Fox News.

Even apart from the racism, since when did shooting the president – or anyone in Congress – become something to laugh at? How is this cartoon going to look if Obama is ever shot?

Al Sharpton, the best-known black leader in New York, called the cartoon “troubling at best”.

The Post, in its defence, said this:

The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington’s efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist.

Trying to make it about Al Sharpton.

Delonas says he did not mean the cartoon in a racist way. Jeff Fecke of Amptoons said in defence of Delonas:

He hasn’t seen illustrations from a hundred years ago showing his people are more like apes than the purer, smarter, obviously more civilized race.

racism-225x400

You hardly have to go back a hundred years. Try last year:

curiousgeorgetshirt

Surely Delonas remembers the Curious George T-Shirts, the ones showing a monkey eating a banana that said “Obama in ’08”. Surely he remembers how that went over. (If only black people remember that one then America is far more screwed up than even I thought.)

Delonas and the people who run the top-selling newspaper in a city that is one-fourth black are not that unwitting.

The cartoon was racist and they knew it.

I hope that everyone at the Post who signed off on this is fired – or, better yet, has the good sense to tell the public they are sorry and then resign.

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