The New York Post caused quite an uproar last week when it ran a political cartoon featuring a dead chimpanzee and two police officers with smoking guns who had just shot the chimp. If I were a police officer, I would be offended. As an African-American male, I am offended. The Post and the cartoonist claimed that they did not intend any racist implications by the cartoon or intend to demean President Barack Obama. Given these denials and the non-apology apology that appeared in the paper Friday, a little history lesson may be in order.
First, the context. On the day the cartoon ran, a picture appeared in the Post of President Obama signing the economic stimulus bill. On the editorial page, the cartoon depicted a dead chimp, with two bullet holes, and two police officers standing over him with drawn weapons. The caption read, “I guess they will have to get someone else to write the next stimulus bill.” Now if that is not an implicit reference to President Obama, I don’t know what was intended by the placement of the cartoon on the same day and pages away from a picture of Obama signing the stimulus bill. The coded message was to compare a black president with a dead monkey.