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?