Monday, February 23, 2009

Ohio's own controversy in portraying President & First Lady as monkeys

Cross posted here since it's related to the previous discussion:

There has been quite a bit of discussion in parts of the blogosphere related to the New York Post cartoon and the racism issue that some have raised. Part of that discussion has hinged on the debate aspect that the cartoonist claims the cartoon was not designed to represent President Barack Obama. Yet here in Ohio, there is a controversy brewing over two scenarios where there is no doubt that the President and the First Lady are being compared to monkeys. This is taking place on a website known as the Whistleblower that is online through the Cincinnatus Standard which states it is, "SW Ohio's Online Home for the Conservative Movement" where in fairness, it should be noted that the Cincinnatus does have a specific disclaimer related to the Whistleblower content.

That said, The Cincinnati Beacon has been out there on this story, trying to raise awareness on what is being written on the Whistleblower beyond the monkey comparisons, there have also been jokes made regarding the assassination of President Obama.

While I do not believe the New York Post cartoon was intended to be racially offensive, I believe the cartoonist was referring to Congress as the "crazed monkey"; I fully realize that former President Bush was often portrayed as a monkey, we could debate that part of the topic endlessly as to the double standard aspect. The reality is there has been and will be a racial connotation attached to comparing any black person to a monkey that does not exist with whites. There's also the reality that many found the lack of respect given President Bush to be an issue, which would be my "if it's wrong it's wrong" theory even without the additional racism aspect. We could also debate the theory of free speech and how we have no real protection from being offended, that if you disagree with this type of cartoon or joke the solution is to just ignore it, that by blogging about it or covering it you give it more attention than it deserves.

We could provide cartoon after cartoon to demonstrate there is not an equal response/reaction even when the political cartoonist target has been a black person. We could point out previous scenarios where Bush assassination jokes have been made with apparently no real accountability beyond apologies. (Hevesi resigned but not related to the joke.) We could point out that some of us so want to believe "the other side is evil" that they'll put out there that John Gibson compared Eric Holder to a monkey with a bright blue scrotum.

That still returns us to the point we are right now. What can or should be done about it and how many more times will we spend hours upon hours debating this topic, selectively demanding resignations or action in relation to racism or sexism? The suggestion when some were offended by sexist cartoons directed at Hillary Clinton was that we just needed to get a better sense of humor...So in that spirit, is that something that we should all do or is it perhaps time to realize that part of the problem is the general lack of respect and perhaps that's what should be worked on...

It is entirely possible to do political cartoons/satire without invoking racism or sexism...I remember a time when it was said the goal was to re-create a "a kinder, and gentler nation" perhaps that never happened because neither side was willing to be the first to practice this towards each other...


Jason said...

"perhaps that never happened because neither side was willing to be the first to practice this towards each other..."

Great post Lisa Renee. I'm glad I stopped by tonight.

The News Writer said...

I completely disagree with those who are demanding resignations, or even apologies for that matter. For all my firm belief that the NY Post cartoon is racist and that the editors and cartoonist were well aware of the reaction they'd get, they can draw and print whatever they want.

I completely agree that we have no right not to be offended.

For my part, I can write what I think about that, as can anybody else. I haven't looked at the Whistleblower site, and probably won't, but from your description, it sounds like hundreds of other sites out there where all manner of ugly and heartless individuals post. We can't stop that either, much as we'd like to sometimes.

Sadly, too many people think nothing of harboring those kind of attitudes, and we all know we certainly can't police that, nor should we want to. I guess the best we can do, if we're at all spiritual, is pray for them. Or just adopt the time-honored tradition of shunning.

I wrote about the Post cartoon -- after first vowing I wouldn't -- because the Post is a little more than a Web site for barely disguised white supremacy. As you know, I have pretty strong feelings about that cartoon, but again, I don't see any reason to call for resignations or anything else.

But let me say this about Bush -- in the end, he got the same respect he gave to virtually everyone else who didn't see the world the way he does. My mother always taught me to be polite and civil, but lately I've come to believe that that advice is precisely how we got here.

The presidency is no sacred cow to me. I find the idea of "respecting the office" laughable. The president is a public figure, and ridicule happens. Although I do draw the line at assassination jokes. That's just not funny.

I spent much of the last 30 years being mindful of "the other side," listening carefully, agreeing where possible and respectfully disagreeing where not. I proudly called myself an Independent, because that's where I felt most at home.

I don't do that anymore though, and sometimes I even call myself a Democrat, although I still have plenty to quarrel about with that party.

But the modern Republican party, conservative movement, has left behind reality and adopted wholesale ignorance and obstructionism as its creed. I cannot abide by a party that shames its members into bowing before Rush Limbaugh, who pompously rolls over everything rational in his path.

A party that happily counts the likes of Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity and Bernard Goldberg as its public relations arm does not have my best interests at heart, nor does it have the best interests of this country and its diverse population at heart.

I'm tired of playing nice. When the "other side" regains its senses, we can talk.

Meanwhile, I need to go bitch about this idea that detainees in Afghanistan should have no civil rights.