February 20, 2009
Post Issues ‘Apology’ Over Racist Cartoon
The Post says the cartoon “meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.â€ Others, including me, saw it very differently.
This isn’t a real mea culpa. What the Post wrote is a backhanded apology with qualifiers. “To those offended by the image, we apologize,” the Post said. Admit you were wrong and misguided in publishing the cartoon. That’s a real apology. I fully expect the apology to soon appear on Harry Shearer‘s apologies of the week, a feature of his public radio program Le Show that criticizes half-hearted apologies.
Mocking the bill is totally legitimate, but using racist imagery depicting an African American as a monkey to get the point across in wrong on so many levels.Â Talented editorial cartoonists are certainly provocateurs and should challenge a reader’s comfort zone. That isn’t Delanos. He’s a hack who takes the easy way out with most of his cartoons. He takes cheap shots instead of designing sophisticated images that will enlighten the reader.
On Wednesday I spoke with Ted Rall, who is president of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists and a syndicated cartoonist with the Universal Press Syndicate, about the cartoon. Rall explained that “what most editorial cartoons try to do is combine two items from the news.â€ In this instance it was the shooting of the deadly chimpanzee in Connecticut on Monday and the signing of the stimulus bill. However, in this instance when you have two “stories that couldn’t be less relatedâ€ it tends to result in lame cartoons, he said.
Though he wasn’t apologizing for Delonas, Rall said, “For people who are accustomed to his work, I don’t think [this cartoon] is a great departure.â€
In the apologetic editorial, the Post takes great pains to let Rev. Al Sharpton know that the apology excludes him. Sharpton, who has been criticized as a civil rights opportunist by the Post, was first out the gate to condemn the cartoon. I think Sharpton and Post publisher Col Allen should settle their longstanding feud in the boxing ring, instead of distracting from the issue of the racist cartoon.
The fact that the Post saw fit to apologize for the cartoon shows that it may yet become a paper that is for all New Yorkers and not just a select hue. Of maybe all the protests, calls for boycotts, and negative attention got to be too much.
Full text of the Post’s apology:
Wednesday’s Page Six cartoon – caricaturing Monday’s police shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut – has created considerable controversy.
It shows two police officers standing over the chimp’s body: “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill,” one officer says.
It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.
But it has been taken as something else – as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled