MediaSnob

Monkey Murder (Racist or Not)

This political cartoon by Delonas ran in the New York Post Wednesday drawn by a guy who apparently didn’t get the memo that any doodle of a great age, chimpanzee, gorilla or monkey within 100 yards of Barack Obama is bound to raise some serious eyebrows.

Need we remind you of Annie Leibovitz infamous LeBron James/Gisele Bundcheon, “Is it silly? Is it King Fucking Kong” cover?

Now, I can see how perhaps Delonas is trying to say the bill was writing by a bunch of dimwitted monkeys, but, seriously, why is the monkey shot? And why is it not funny (the greater sin)? And is it racist?

The Good Rev. Al Sharpton has already unleashed his mouth of fury on the doodle. There’s no gray area for Big Perm.

The Rev. Al Sharpton appears to be a bit puzzled as well. “Being that the stimulus bill has been the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama (the first African American president) and has become synonymous with him it is not a reach to wonder whether the Post cartoonist was inferring that a monkey wrote it?”

The Rev. Al Sharpton is demanding that The New York Post, which has come under fire in the past for racially tinged cartoons, explain what it meant in its latest controversial offering.

“On its face, it appears that the Post is not only calling Obama an ape, but a dead ape. “The cartoon in today’s New York Post is troubling at best, given the racist attacks throughout history that have made African-Americans synonymous with monkeys,” Sharpton writes on his National Action Network Web site. “One has to question whether the cartoonist is making a less than casual inference to this form of racism when, in the cartoon, the police say after shooting a chimpanzee, ‘now they will have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill, Sharpton writes.

(Source: BET)

Your verdict?

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47 thoughts on “Monkey Murder (Racist or Not)

  1. Scott says:

    I thought Congress wrote the spending bill not Obama? The monkey is shot b/c the cartoonist is making a play on the story of the chimp that attacked the woman and was shot by the cops.

  2. moja31 says:

    it wasn’t funny, it didn’t make much sense, and yeah it’s beyond stupid to use the imagery of an ape in anything that could even be remotely connected to president obama. imagery of things getting shot, that can be remotely connected to president obama, isn’t cool either. the fact that the post is part of rupert’s fact-free conservative media universe, is again not helpful. there’s a whole bunch of stupid whirling around the whole thing.

  3. Danielle Belton says:

    @ Sierra and ScottI just thought the whole thing was a massive fail because it wasn’t funny. I didn’t initially get it when I first saw it (or its point). But now that you mention the chimp the cops recently had to shot that puts it in some more perspective but still doesn’t save it from the sin of "unfunniness" and being nonsensical.

  4. As a black American (I have neither an afro nor could I even name a street in African) who often writes jokes on a public forum over at my blog that often times are very off color I see the humor in this picture because I understand the layers beyond the obvious. It’s a quality I think that is necessary to having an evolved sense of humor. For those who are unaware yesterday a pet Chimp named Travis attacked it’s owner stole her car keys and tried to escape in a Cop car, this is absolutely true. The Cops had to shoot the monkey! We have a black President everybody that does not take monkey jokes off the table, especially when monkeys are stealing cars. I repeat we have a Black President and the majority of this country voted him in and think he’s doing an excellent job. Lets stay focused, do you realize how many news papers flat out said a monkey was running the White House during the last administration!?! How many of us endorse the worst rap known to man, rap that flat out pushes the worst, most violent, degenerate ideals possible! It’s called the 1st Amendment y’all it works for everybody. For realz, somebody should feel bad for Travis!

  5. moja31 says:

    @scott: yes congress did technically write the bill but it’s obama’s first major legislative victory, and as far as public perception is concerned, ownership of the stimulus rests firmly with him.

  6. The A says:

    (throwing a rotten tomato) Boooooo!!!I see an unfortunate and unfunny reference to the chimp that was just shot for attacking its owner and an attempt to get a free pass for referencing an old familiar racial slur.So if it’s a picture- not a statement -is it still considered a double entendre or is it just an insinuation?

  7. moja31 says:

    @Nikia Henderson: i’m sorry, but i do in fact think monkey jokes ought to go into a box under the bed as far as president obama is concerned; i can’t imagine a circumstance under which it would be okay to make a monkey joke about him, and no it will never be the same as making a monkey joke about bush. humor is great, but it’s not a shield to be wielded in every circumstance; there are and ought to be limits to everything in life. the first amendment protects your right to say pretty much whatever you want, but it also protects other people’s right to be offended by it and call you out on it; having a right to express something is not a right to immunity from criticism for doing so, and that goes for both rap lyrics and cartoons.

  8. @moja31: Do you think this even registered on the radar for President Obama or the crowds surrounding him right now cheering for him like a rock star! If extremely indirect racially charged monkey jokes can throw our focus off track then God help us! WE ARE NOT JEWS! We are Black Americans, we have held our chins high and stuck our chests out in the face of far greater injustices than an extremely veiled monkey joke. I make the very inflammatory statement that we are not jews because they seem to corner the market on whining and complaining about people not liking them. They throw around words like antisemitism at every and any disparaging word that is a satire about them and theirs. Everyone is not gonna like us can’t let that be a speed bump that we actually waist the time to drop sound bites on news shows about (talkin to you Al Sharpton) Lets take a note out of Mr. Obama’s playbook, during his run for the White House if had stopped to address every stupid thing said about him, things that were very direct in their intent he never would have made it to the White House. Obama will one day have to sit across the table and match wits with the likes of Vladimir Putin, if monkey jokes have to be shelved for his sake then God help us!. Whereas you are correct people have a right to be offended at anything they please, I would suggest saving ones righteous indignation for truly relevant issue of note, things that can actually effect the black community…real issue like why is the very white Republican party trying to hamstring President Obama’s efforts to put more money back in your pockets! Monkeys named Travis and jokes thereof only mean as much as you allow them to and you’re giving it steroids right about now.

  9. Layo G says:

    Okay, we need to chill out on the the "racist" charge sometimes. Was the post stupid? YES. Was the post totally NOT funny? YES, but I don’t think it was racist. Some people might not have been aware, but a chimp was shot yesterday by police after getting out of his cage, and I think that it was it was referencing. But I agree in that someone REALLY should have thought this one out before printing, since Black people were referred to as apes long ago. However, I have my issues with the post for other reasons, it was just totally stupid, and the point they were trying to make was SO UN FOUNDED!! Sometimes I wonder what idiots are running that paper?!?!anyways, i don’t think it was racist, but definitely STUPID!!

  10. Sierra says:

    Nikia, there are definitely more important things to be offended about but if one chooses to be offended by an unnecessary ape/president killer cops "satire", then so be it. I doubt there will be protests and I don’t see Obama calling it out, but that doesn’t mean anyone else can’t. It just didn’t register as even remotely amusing to me and it was clearly meant to generate publicity, not laughs. "As a black American (I have neither an afro nor could I even name a street in African) who often writes jokes on a public forum over at my blog that often times are very off color I see the humor in this picture because I understand the layers beyond the obvious. It’s a quality I think that is necessary to having an evolved sense of humor." Erm……OK….

  11. moja31 says:

    @Nikia Henderson: so one can only criticize or talk about things that make it onto the president’s radar. thanks for the memo, as to when i can and can’t exercise my freedom of speech; i’ll be sure to ignore all blog posts about things that aren’t serious. yes president obama was elected by a large margin, and he’s plenty popular right now, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t all kinds of people doing and saying stupid things, and it doesn’t mean people can’t comment on them. so yeah like i said previously the cartoon isn’t racist, mostly just unfunny; and no the president’s popularity doesn’t mean that everything is always just in good fun nor does it mean that monkey jokes cease to be stupid . not everything is worth calling up sharpton for a quote ( the people that call him do it b/c they know he never turns down a chance to be quoted), but it doesn’t mean it can’t be commented on either.undermining president obama doesn’t start nor does it end with congressional republicans, there are plenty of folks who are trying to undermine him and his legislative agenda for a whole host of reasons; and they are doing it in ways small and large. engaging in a conversation on blog thread doesn’t mean you aren’t aware of these very real issues nor does it mean that you aren’t doing other things to work for the political agenda you’d like to see realized.

  12. dukedraven says:

    It was the first thing I read this morning and I immediately sent a complaining email to the editor. Bigots can be found anywhere, In NYC or Birmingham.

  13. The A says:

    Ok, Nikiayour rant is angry, offensive, and inappropriate. Be civil.We (as a peoplz) don’t need to tear down any other group in order to make a point. It’s not whining and complaining, it’s called self-respect. Furthermore, we should never, never, never apologize for speaking out against racially charged monkey jokes whether extremely direct (tshirts in ATL) or indirect (cartoon). I’m not calling for President Obama to lose focus or address this, yet I think it is in our best interests -meaning all Americans- to speak out and condemn racism AND stupidity whenever and whereever it occurs.We would not NEED to hold our chins high and stick our chests out to face great injustices if we did not tolerate the smaller more ambiguous injustices.

  14. Apparently this cartoonist has a little bit of a rep for dancing on the lines of bigotry and inappropriateness. I think this was his "clever" attempt to push that line and wait for the reaction. He intentions are very clear and his ability to dodge the "racial" bullet on this one rests in the argument of ambiguity and hair splitting analysis of the cartoon. The stimulus bill is definitely Obama’s on one hand, on the other hand he technically didn’t write it as Danielle said. I think it’s wack, unfunny, and juvenile. It is of course the NY Post, but still…..where were the editors on this one? Maybe that’s a naive question. I put the publisher’s email and the managing editor’s email on my blog (passingplecker.blogspot.com) if anyone feels moved to let their feelings be known.

  15. Layo G says:

    @ Nikia, I actually agree with your underlying point, but you lost me with some of the things you said. I agree with you so much in saying that we have bigger fish to fry. Its easy to decry monkeys in cartoons (and it was a stupid cartoon, Im not taking that away at all), but instead, why not throw our energy at helping the kids in urban areas make it to college, or helping to clean up the our neihborhoos, things that can ACTUALLY uplift black people (and im sure many of you do, and if you do, then disregard this), but the point is many of the people that are first to complain find it easy to do that, but won’t give up their time to actually help people in the neighborhood. Again, the cartoon was stupid, but instead of jumping all over Nikia (who’s point I admit was made not in the greatest of way….what’s with the Jew comment?), we should really focus our fights on the things that can actually make a difference. The more attention we give the idiots that made the cartoon, the bigger incentive he has to make it again!

  16. Nobody in their right mind thinks Mr. Obama “wrote” the stimulus bill. I question whether or not he even read it!If anyone one person write it, then it would be Nancy Pelosi. So maybe the cartoon is referring to her.I think Sharpton is out for publicity again….

  17. lamh31 says:

    So what exactly is the link between the crazy monkey story and the passing/writing of the stimulus bill? What exactly is the correlation between the 2 stories? How does one relate to the other? If the defenders of this cartoon could suggest some plausible, non-racial alternative linkage, I would love to hear it.

  18. MJ says:

    I just don’t see the correlation between the chimp and the bill. If it were a mouse the cops were shooting then I’d get it. Because the Crazy Right’s talking point during this whole bill was the non-existent $30 million that was going to a mouse in San Francisco (Pelosis district). The NYP (being a right-leaning paper) would make fun of something like that. And in that case it would be funny.

  19. Nicole says:

    @ lamh31 & MJTHANK YOU! I was reading the posts about the chimp story and the stimulus bill and I just didn’t get it. How are the two connected? and how are they being referenced here?Also, I think the cartoon is racist but I’m in no way surprised so what irks me most is that it’s not even funny.

  20. Lady M says:

    The cartoon wasn’t funny and it was racist, no doubt about it. But what can we do about it?? Sure Al Sharpton is out there crying foul but that’s not going to stop all the other right wing wanna be "comedians" from publishing offensive cartoons/ "satire".

  21. TBI says:

    I think that we should classify this, and other future circumstances of this nature, as "unintentional racism". The writer wanted to parody the shooting of Travis the Chimp while throwing a jab at our Congress. Some of us Black folk saw racism in its meaning, while others didn’t. I, personally, wasn’t offended by it (I got the supposed "joke", I thought it was just plain stupid) but I don’t think that those of us who weren’t offended should criticize those who were, they have every right to feel the way they do. After rereading the cartoon, I can see how some people could find racist innuendo in it, especially given this country’s history of comparing us to monkeys and the most of the MSM touting the stimulus package as "Obama’s Bill".I’m also a little surprised that the NY Post editors decided to run w/ it, not because of the perception of "unintentional racism" but because it was unfunny. A re-caption contest should be done to see if someone can make this cartoon funnier.

  22. funkyheadhunter says:

    The New York Post is a right-wing tabloid (emphasis on the word "tabloid") that makes its bread and butter through sensationalism and controversy. The fervor that’s beginning to spring up is exactly what the editors expected when they printed the thing in the first place. All this hoopla does is help the Post sell papers. Whether anyone likes it or not, this comic is protected under the 1st ammendment and by making such a stink about it, you only lend credence to the idea that we (democrats, minorities, liberals, or whoever else fox news hates) only stand by free speech when the speech in question doesn’t offend us. And while I’m definitely offended by the damn thing, I’m not going to help give it more weight than it deserves by contributing to its prominence for the next 24 news cycle. Sometimes the best thing you can do with stupid people, is to ignore them.Furthermore, this thing is crap anyway. It’s using a fairly obscure reference to address a well-known problem and makes no attempt to show a correlation. Who exactly is the crazed, best friend maiming chimp supposed to represent? Obama, Pelosi, Congress? You could argue all day everyday about that one. The more interesting question to me would be who are the cops supposed to represent?

  23. I fail to see the "angry" in any of my posts for those who claim to see otherwise, for any who are confused or put off by my comments regarding Jews it was to draw what I think is a very valid social comparison to whats important to beef on and what is not. I at no point told anybody on this site not to be of their own opinion. Calling names can’t hurt us or hold us back we have proven that many times over so the jokes about monkeys that are even loosely aimed at any people of color in my opinion is below even the necessity to criticize. I laughed when I saw it because I knew a thing or two regarding the story about Travis the chimp who tried to steal a freakin cop car! I dont know about yall but thats funny. I’m not lookin for the racist in that because I’ve moved up from there and that is not to imply that anyone who thinks differently hasn’t moved up from there I can only speak for myself. Monkeys are funny. Monkeys stealing cars even funnier. Monkeys getting shot by Cops while stealing said car the funniest. Implying that Congress are a bunch of monkeys, well I think they’ve proven that for the last 8yrs I say thats classic. So anybody puts a cartoon of a monkey in the paper and refers the government in any way for the next 4 years must be talking about the black guy, right? Who’s thinking racist?

  24. Nikia – there is a difference between people not liking someone and saying that they are not human. Given the history of White America doubting, downplaying and flat out ignoring the very humanity of Black America I just can’t find the funny in this. Nor can I find the funny in someone keeping a wild animal as a pet and it going on a rampage and being shot by the police. The woman’s face is torn up, the animal is dead, property was dsetroyed and now our President is being compared to a crazed animal – it’s hilarious. I never compared President Bush to an animal. I think he was a liar and a murderer who disgraced the Office of the President. Maybe I just wasn’t sophisticated enough to see that since other people at one point called Pres. Bush a monkey it was ok. And since the chimpanzee had in fact, attcked police and been shot it was funny. And, of course since President Obama is still popular we shouldn’t ‘get off track’ when people compare him to an animal. How could I not see the humor in it all?

  25. It’s not racist and just a little funny. The fact that they used a Chimp has to do with the fact that a Chimp was recently shot in Connecticut. But putting that fact aside, the President doesn’t write bills, he just signs them. The cartoon was commenting on the fact that the stimulus bill is far from perfect, which both the President and other leaders have said it isn’t, and looks like it has been written by a monkey–which arguably you could say it was. There isn’t even a clear connection to Obama at all, which is what doesn’t make it very funny. No big ears or anything. This is just another example of us being unnecessarily hypersensitive when it comes to ethnicity. We all need to relax a little.

  26. B. Cross says:

    How is it that as a race of people, we always see things differently. When White Americans see an unarmed Black American being beaten to death by white police officers, they only see that he must have been resisting arrest. The black americans see that he was trying to protect his head and face from being bashed in, that is why his hands was up. When an unarmed black male is shot several times by white police officers, he must have done something to provoke it. We just see another unarmed man dying for no reason. I was looking at this photo of two white cops blowing away what at first glance appears to be a monkey. Then I read the caption referring to the stimulus bill. My first thought was that they just called President Obama a "Monkey", and why is he dead. Wow! Had it just been a picture of two white cops shooting a monkey or ape, I would have instantly knew that the author was referencing the incident with the ape. The caption turned it into something totally different. My 8 year old daughter, who I have to admit is very bright, looks at the picture and after a few minutes of observation asks " daddy are they calling President Obama a Monkey"? I asked her why did she say that, her response was that " I just took a guess". Well I say some guess.

  27. TBI says:

    I think the "hysteria" is well deserved. Humorous or not, the NY Post offended some people on various levels, whether it be for trying to make light of tragic event that involved an animal attack or unintended racism. And I’m beginning to see that it’s just not Black people who read into the "Chimp=Obama" slant either. A lot of other people are coming forward to say that they initially saw it that same way, so maybe this all isn’t Black folk just being oversensitive. All the NY Post had to do was make a formal apology to the people who were offended and this might have blown over, but they instead tried to explain what was meant by the cartoon (if you had to explain your joke, it’s a sign that it wasn’t funny) and then decided to attack Sharpton. Kind of makes the NYP look insensitive.

  28. Bad Girl says:

    Post-racial America looks curiously like Racist America to me!!!There are so many levels on with this cartoon is disturbing.1. Primate=black people2. Writer of the bill = Obama3. Extra-judicial killings=The history of police using extreme force in the black community to solve America’s "black problem"All of which combine to imply that killing Obama will solve America’s problems. I guess they though this was a clever way to start rounding up the "good ole boys" with their guns and nooses without seeming to advocate the assassination of the President of the Unites States which would be a criminal offense.

  29. Scott says:

    I find quite a bit of irony in that cartoonists spent eight years portraying Bush with chip like qualities and no one complained about that, not to mention all the chip comments about Bush on the Democratic Underground, like the chipernor and Chimpy McCokespoon.

  30. Winn says:

    @ Nikia,The comparison between black people and apes/monkeys has a long history in art, literature, film, music, and advertising, and this was not confined to pop culture. The linkage between blacks and subhuman animals underlay many of the beliefs that fostered lynchings, Jim Crow segregation, eugenics, the Scottsboro Boys trial and the Tuskegee Experiment, among many other ugly episodes. Go back and read excerpts from newspapers from the 1920’s and 30’s and see how alleged black male criminals were described. Then look at the cartoon again, in the context of police shootings of unarmed black males and an implied assassination threat against our first African American president. Remember that despite the fact that Obama did not write the stimulus bill, he has certainly been associated with its championing and passage in both the news media and in popular discourse, and its passage is frequently described as Obama’s first legislative victory. So the suggestion that people will parse the distinction between writing the bill and signing it is rather specious. Even if you want to suggest that the bill is so convoluted and dumb that a "monkey" could have written it, do you really think this cartoonist didn’t intend to imply a correlation between the man most commonly associated with this bill and that "monkey"? Puhleeze. If in doubt, go to Gawker.com and check out some of his other brilliant work. Then come back and tell me he was trying to make a witty and subtle political point, rather than using deliberate racist imagery and then ducking behind the "political correctness gone mad-free speech advocate/artistic freedom- you over-sensitive minorities always whining-racism doesn’t exist anymore now that we have a black President and if all you people would stop talking about it, we would be much better off" arguments that bolster casual racism every single day. Oh, and the exact accusations you fling at Jews have been employed against blacks time and time again, and it is pretty astonishing that you think you can accuse Jews of playing the "anti-Semitism card" while at the same time you indulge in the very anti-Semitism you attempt to dismiss.@ Scott,By the way, the correlation with the imagery of Bush is so tiresome and irrelevant. Aside from their serious ideological and intellectual differences, there is one glaring difference between Obama and Bush that illustrates exactly why this cartoon has elicited the reaction it has (just as the cartoonist and the NYP knew it would). I’ll give you three guesses as to what that difference is, and the first two don’t count. I’ll give you an "Obama as Curious George" t-shirt if you win.

  31. Scott says:

    Winn:So what is your point? Is it that b/c there has not been a historical portrayal of whites as apes that it is okay to portray a white president as an ape/ sub-human? I guess so. All of this assumes in the first place that the cartoon is even referring to Obama and that Sharpton is not creating a self serving publicity stunt, which he probably is in order to get the NYPost back for doing a front page article on his tax problems.

  32. Rob says:

    Well considering Bush was responsible for the last stimulus and he was always being compared to a chimp and has recently left office. I would be fair to say they were referring to Bush. Also if it were a reference to Obama, then it is possible that his rapid political changes are analogous to an animal (could have easily been a white tiger if it were chronologically relevant) on a rampage.

  33. The thing about it is that it is either a veiled racist comment, or it lacks any of the traditional symbolism of political cartoons. What I mean is, there’s donkeys for democrats, tophats for robber barons, and so on and so forth – traditional cartoon symbols for things. So people are bound to search their minds, to hook it up with the thing it’s been used to symbolize in the past.I also think that story about the chimp was so sad that I can’t figure why anyone would think it would make for a funny cartoon.

  34. Nicole Nobles says:

    My name is Nicole Nobles. im 36 years old and I spent all my time being a Suga mama to someone rlse’s man, then he turns around and has a monkey baby with his fiance. yeah, Im black, so What!? All black babies are monkies lol get at me http://www.myspace.com/sweettreatsbaking(347) 907-5306address- 349 Winthrop Street Brooklyn, ny 11225

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