Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chauncey DeVega says: Monkey-Gate Part 1 or My 2 Cents on the New York Post Chimp Cartoon Fiasco

I have a deep interest in the man-ape dynamic. As longtime readers know, I still hold that I can defeat one of those wild beasts by wielding my belt. I also believe that the man-ape relationship could in fact hold the solution for many of the social problems that continue to plague our society (a monkey Rosetta Stone of sorts). I also have an exhaustive mental Rolodex of man-ape factoids at my disposal. Yes, Gordon will tell me that apes, monkeys, and gorillas are not the same...he simply doesn't understand the wisdom of the simian tripartite. My ape reflections are so nuanced that I am of 3 minds on the controversy surrounding the New York Post and its much discussed Ape Stimulus Bill cartoon. Thus, I bring you part 1 of my thoughts on what I have come to call "Monkey-Gate."

Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the New York Post and Fox News has finally seen the light of day and apologized for the recent cartoon that attempted to satirize Barack Obama's stimulus bill. Ultimately, Murdock wanted controversy and he certainly received it--in spades (you have to love that Oscar Wilde like wordplay).

As I noted in regards to the controversy surrounding the New Yorker magazine and its failed effort at lampooning the Islamophobes and those Right-wing paranoids who were convinced that Michelle Obama was Angela Davis redux and Barack was an Al Qaeda fifth columnist, the best satire both provokes while also speaking to some deeper truth. One that is not readily apparent. Likewise, as I suggested in the New Yorker case, the New York Post cartoon fails the latter test because it is so utterly obvious.

One cannot forget that the New York Post is a tabloid. And by extension, the raison d'etre of the New York Post is to be tacky, heavy handed, and clod-footed. Thus, it is incapable of subtlety by virtue of its very nature and design.

With those qualifiers noted, yes the cartoon is racist. Yes, Murdoch's publication was intentionally linking Barack Obama to a monkey. Yes, this is quite different from those editorial cartoons that parodied George Bush as being chimpanzee like in his countenance. Yes, as researchers at UCLA have demonstrated, the relationship evoked by the New York Post cartoon speaks to a far deeper and more dangerous racial dynamic in this country. And yes, I still believe that folks need thicker skins and that they should reorient their energies towards addressing real matters of public concern.

Consider: the world is on the cusp of a second Great Depression. We have inner city communities that are virtual Hobbesian states of nature. We have failing schools. We have communities that are struggling for their very existence. We have a contracting--if not disappearing middle class. In short, we have real problems, real concerns, and real worries as this generation of Americans, and their children, will likely see a radically diminished quality of life. These are concerns that cut across the colorline. Moreover, and as United States history has repeatedly demonstrated, while white supremacy and racism were a consistent narrative, economic adversity exacerbates, rather than minimizes, racial animus. Alternatively stated, when is the kumbaya, basking in the glow of inter-racial, post-Obama bliss going to turn into a let's throw the bums out--starting with those black bums in the White House and anyone who looks like them--clarion call for a political housecleaning?

And I must ask the provocative question, will this be a general purge or a racially hued Pogrom?


. said...

Dear friends,

This is my first post here even though I have listed this blog on my 'follow this blog' account' and have read many of your articles.

Thanks for your attention and thorough research to this issue. Although I agree with you that we have 'real' issues, it is my belief that one of the primary reasons that the Black community and the progressive community is not having our real issues heard is because of racist, media monopolies like NYPost/Fox Media.

I have posted the audio version of my first thoughts on the Nypost racism on my personal podcast here: http://www.blackmanfluff.net/2009/02/black-man-fluff_21.html

I have also posted my thoughts on this matter in a text version on the Peace Communities Solidarity Blog, that contains photos and a very powerful video with Amy Goodman interviewing Al Sharpton, who is leading the protests against the Ny Post, during the protests found here: http://savethepoorbrownchildren.blogspot.com/2009/02/circulate-this-fire-new-york-post.html

After doing a considerable amount of research on this issue, I now feel that it would be a band-aid solution to a gushing wound crisis to simply Fire the Editor of the NY Post.

In you forward to the last 30 seconds of the 6 minute video you will see Amy Goodman asks Al Sharpton: Do you think Rupert Murdoch should be investigated overall? And Al Sharpton states that the FCC special waivers that allowed Rupert Murdoch to own Two television stations and a newspaper in New York City should be 'reviewed.' Let me be clear. I am calling for those FCC waivers to be canceled and they should have never been permitted by such an extremist, racially biased newspaper. And I hope others will also call for the FCC special waivers to be canceled.

For those who may think this is a minor issue, or an isolated incident, I strongly urge you to see the movie titled: "OutFoxed: OUTFOXED : Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism." The entire documentary, sponsored by MoveOn, is found here: http://tinyurl.com/OutfoxedVideo

It is not simply an issue of race, but also of progressive viewpoints. At the below link, Mark Anthony Neal, a Black professor at Duke University and a visiting scholar at the University of PA, wrote a blog post on his 'new Black man' blog titled:”OPINION: Hit Cartoon Publisher In The Wallet” and he further discusses how Fox News has used the most right-wing reporters of all races that they can find, like Juan Williams, who is Black, to attack Black People as he did when he attacked Michelle Obama in his 'Fox News Reports.' Link:.

Yes,we should take action, and we should Hit Their Wallet, but we shouldn't stop with getting one person fired, we shouldn't simply send letters to Rupert Murdoch and the NY Post, we shouldn't simply call this an issue of racism.... we should press on and support the movement to cancel the special waiver that the FCC granted Fox News, who owns the NY Post and Two TV stations in New York. Then, and only then, will we see real change in the racially biased attacks against progressive Black people by Fox/Ny Post Media.

The other day, Benjamin Todd Jealous, the head of the NAACP, urged readers to boycott the New York Post, he stated, as many have, that the cartoon was “an invitation to assassination.”
Link: http://tinyurl.com/AnInvitationToAssassination

The NAACP has also posted a letter on their website for people to circulate and calling for "all those involved in the decision to print the image step down from their positions at the New York Post." Having one or several people step down for this is still not enough because this has gone on for far too long and has only gotten worse. Just as right wing think tanks hand out talking points and echo each other, we as Black bloggers need to echo our opinions that this was not merely a racist cartoon, but it was “an invitation to assassination.” That is the way that we need to frame this issue so that it can receive the type of priority that it truly deserves. It was not simply racist, it was an an invitation to assassination on the highest elected official in the country by a newspaper that has shown increasing hostility towards Blacks in general and Black elected officials and it needs to be dealt with in that manner of federal urgency, in addition to the racism of it all.

We are in agreement with the fact that there are 'real' issues but this indeed should be made a priority.

Keep up the great work everyone,

Love for the people,

Anonymous said...

'"Do you really think I'm saying Obama should be shot? I didn't see that in the cartoon," Delonas told CNN. '.... Well, I pretty much can tell that Delonas really did not understand that this is racist. He thinks this was about shooting the president. It's actually a relief that this is due to his ignorance about how racist white people see black people as monkeys... vice brother humans. Yep, it's kind of a relief but, very sad that his sensitivity is not tuned to the black man. I, as a born racist, immediately saw the black man as the monkey...Delonas had no clue.... As demonstrated by his " ...do you really feel .. Obama should be shot?..." ..remark!