It is POSSIBLE, of course, to construe the NY Post “chimp” cartoon as a racist slam at President Obama — even though neither Obama nor his administration “wrote” the porkulus bill. That’s why I said in my previous post that the cartoon was “stupid” — in a city with a history of racial tension, the paper has no business comparing ANYBODY with a lower primate.
But to insist, in the face of the cartoonist’s denials, and in the face of the actual factual basis for the cartoon, that the cartoon was aimed at Obama is to believe that a long-time cartoonist at one of the largest newspapers in the country is consciously trafficking in the most contemptible kind of racial imagery. It is, quite literally, unbelievable.
A responsible black leader would acknowledge the Post’s apology and move on. In fact, a responsible black leader did exactly that. I would have preferred if Governor Paterson had explicitly criticized Sharpton, but his description of the Post apology as “very honorable” is a strong implicit slap at Sharpton. President Obama, who understandably had to cultivate Sharpton while establishing himself in politics, should repudiate Sharpton’s comments as well. (Click photos for sources)
These thoughts all are sparked by a comment “ockraz” made about my prior post. He first heard about the cartoon via NPR, which offered no explanation OTHER THAN racism. As ockraz said,
People who heard Sharpton (or NPR) first will probably be more responsive to that interpretation. It’s like holding up a Rorschach test and saying, “am I the only one who sees a bat?”
It’s not possible to completely unring the bell, and because of Sharpton’s spin, some people will be saying for years that the Post called Obama a monkey. And that’s why Sharpton’s long history of racial demagoguery is so contemptible.
Whatever else he may be, Al Sharpton is not unaware of the effects his agitation can cause. He has used that knowledge to make a lucrative living for years, shaking down some of the largest and most well-lawyered corporations in America.
Sharpton HAS to understand that the cartoon was ill-advised rather than bigoted. He HAS to know that his incitements to riot can lead to riots. He HAS to know that he has blood on his hands from previous episodes of race-baiting.
I generally avoid expressing contempt for people on this blog, even if they are public figures. I’ve criticized President Obama’s actions and policies and I proudly voted for John McCain, but I will not express contempt for my President — and if he is not YOUR President, then you are not my countryman. The most derisive thing I’ve ever said about Obama as a person is to call him “The One” — and Oprah did it first.
I make exceptions to the no-contempt policy for people with a long history of reprehensible behavior. Sharpton has qualified as a “thug” (no, it’s NOT racial code) at least since 1987, when he was one of the architects of the Tawana Brawley hoax, and continued to endanger the life of Steven Pagones by branding him a racist, long after a grand jury refused to indict Pagones. Even Salon, a left-liberal bastion, has recognized that Pagones was “the Brawley case’s true victim.”
A black man has now been elected to the world’s most powerful position, leaving Sharpton desperately trying to protect his race-baiting industry. Instead of moving on, Sharpton has ramped up his condemnation of the Post and has started to peddle it in new venues. Today he repeated his phony charges in Syracuse, as part of what a local TV station called “a drive to boost membership in a local chapter of his National Alliance Network.”
As of yet there are no reports of rioting by the good citizens of Syracuse, so perhaps Sharpton is losing his mojo. One can only hope.
(Am I too hard on Sharpton here? If so, please comment to tell me how — I promise I will not bite or bark at you. If it is possible to make a thoughtful defense of Sharpton, I would really like to see it. I would especially welcome comments, pro or con, from black readers.)