NY Post Makes Half-Hearted Apology for Contraversial Cartoon, Takes Dig at Al Sharpton, John Legend Weighs In… phew
I was intrigued after watching President Obama’s first speech to the joint session of Congress, last night. Not only by the President’s optimistic tone and ambitious agenda, but also by the ridiculous celebrity that he commanded. For a full 30 minutes after the address, he was signing autographs for floor member’s programs like he was some kind of rock star. Even his close friend Jesse Jackson Jr. had him sign two programs!? I mean… you people are in congress, not at a Jonas Brothers concert. Weird. It reminded me that I had been meaning to write a post about this controversial NY Post cartoon, scolding Obama’s stimulus plan by depicting him as a monkey riddled with bullets. As you can see haters come with rock stardom, it’s part of a package deal. If you haven’t already had a chance, check it out:
So I’m sure you know the drill: the NAACP hit the streets by the hundreds to protest this insult to the president’s, and indeed our own, character. Lead by the Reverend Al Sharpton, protesters were calling for the resignation of the cartoon’s illustrator, and the NY Post’s editor. The Post offered this “sincere” apology:
“It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill. Period. 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” (read more here)
“The opportunist” here is obviously a dig at Sharpton, who has been criticized by some as a media leech. However, whether they like him or not, I don’t think The Post should have apologized, and then un-apologized in the same letter – it sent a mixed message. Grammy winner John Legend certainly agreed. Check out this open letter to the post he wrote:
I’ve read your lame statement in response to the outrage you provoked. Shame on you for dodging the real issue and then using the letter as an opportunity to attack the Rev. Sharpton. This is not about Sharpton. It’s about the cartoon being blatantly racist and offensive…
Did it occur to you that this suggestion would imply a connection between President Barack Obama and the deranged chimpanzee? Did it occur to you that our president has been receiving death threats since early in his candidacy? Did it occur to you that blacks have historically been compared to various apes as a way of racist insult and mockery? Did you intend to invoke these painful themes when you printed the cartoon? If that’s not what you intended, then it was stupid and willfully ignorant of you not to connect these easily connectable dots. (read John Legend’s entire article here)
I could not have written it better myself. You don’t print a cartoon of the first Black president eating a bucket of fried chicken and a watermelon, with the caption: “this is how you end world hunger” – and then shrug it off, like you didn’t understand the implications.
Are we musicians alone on this one?