Michelle Obama Cartoon: Political Satire or Racism

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Who can forget The New York Post cartoon with President Obama as a chimpanzee shot down by trigger-happy NYPD? Another provocatively nasty cartoon shows President Obama dressing in a ransacked-looking bedroom with a half-naked, crying Lady Liberty—after being raped by the president. This, implicitly, fosters the White-supremacist myth of the rapacious Black male’s lusting after White women.

[Speaking Truth To Power]

Is the Feb. 5 cartoon depicting First Lady Michelle Obama as grossly fat, published on the conservative website BigGovernment.com, racist?

In the cartoon, the First Lady is shown at a dinner-table—eating from an overflowing plate filled with hamburgers—with President Obama, whose ears are grotesquely huge. In the first caption, of the cartoon, the First Lady tells the president: “I’ve stepped up my efforts to control America’s eating habits by telling restaurants to lower portion sizes and fat content.”

President Obama replies by saying: “Michelle, I want to get re-elected, what you’re doing is only going to annoy a lot of people.”

The First Lady retorts: “Shut up and pass the bacon!”

The cartoon is, supposedly, satirizing First Lady Michelle Obama’s one-year-old “Let’s Move” campaign to fight obesity. Obesity is a serious health problem in America that’s becoming dramatically worse. Here are a few facts to consider: In the last 30 years America’s childhood obesity rates have tripled; 40 percent of African-American and Latino kids are obese; and, Childhood obesity
leads to an assortment of health problems like: cancer, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and kidney problems.

“The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake,” the First Lady has said. Some have attacked the cartoon as racist, especially, since it creators—writer James Hudnall and artist Batton Lash who produce the “Obama Nation” cartoon—are associates of right-winger Andrew Breitbart.

Breitbart is responsible for pushing character assassination pieces against ACORN and former Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod. Due to Breitbart’s efforts, ACORN’s funding was cancelled by Congress and Sherrod was forced to resign from her position. ACORN and Sherrod were, eventually, vindicated. Sherrod recently launched a defamation lawsuit against Breitbart.

Lawrence O’Donnell, of MSNBC, called the cartoon a “racist obscenity” characterizing the cartoon as revealing a “hateful vision” and for its “animalistic” depicting of President Obama with big ears. Hudnall and Lash have argued their cartoon isn’t racist.

“There is nothing racist about the cartoon,” stated Hudnall “The artist merely drew the first couple in caricature, which is what political cartoonists do. All we’ve done was to take a mild poke at the hypocrisy of the first lady. The press has already detailed the kind of foods served at White House dinners. It’s rarely diet friendly.”

Lash responded by saying “What’s racist about it? Cartooning — specifically political cartooning– has always been aboutexaggeration---If our current president is exempt because of the color of his skin, I think that would be racist. By the way, I didn’t depict the First Lady as fat — just a hearty eater!”

Broadcaster Bill Schmalfeldt, on Technorati, wrote: “Brietbart’s hack comic drawers don’t understand satire. Instead, they show the First Lady as fat and scarfing down cheeseburgers, which she doesn’t do, they show Obama’s ears as impossibly large, the cartoon isn’t funny in the first place, and there’s no grain of truth on which to hang the satire.”

Lash tells us “political cartooning has always been about exaggeration.” Maybe so, but let’s be clear his depiction is about exaggerating lies and propagating the same fictions race-baiting, right-wingers have been spewing for the last two years.  First of all, Lash is a damn liar, when he claims he didn’t depict the First Lady as fat. He did. Anyone who honestly thinks his cartoon resembles Obama better get their eyes checked. The First Lady is, in fact, a model of fitness in an increasingly obese nation. Moreover, how in
the hell does Mr. Lash know Mrs. Obama is a “hearty eater?”

Does he have her daily menu?

Nobody, in the Black community, should be surprised by the racist demagoguery of these cartoons that have popped up since President Obama was elected. They mirror the bigotry of many on the so-called “right,” who’re doing everything to “take back” this country down the wrong road.

In fact, in spite of, or, perhaps because of, Barack Obama’s historic victory as the first African-American president, racism is backsliding in lily-white corners of America. In terms of cartoons promoting prejudice, we’re witnessing the return of Sambo-like depictions, to denigrate and cultivate hate against the Obamas. A Google search will turn up illustrations depicting President Obama as an African witchdoctor with a bone in his nose, as a banana-eating monkey, as a shoeshine boy, as a turban wearing Muslim, to name a few.

Who can forget The New York Post cartoon with President Obama as a chimpanzee shot down by trigger-happy NYPD? Another provocatively nasty cartoon shows President Obama dressing in a ransacked-looking bedroom with a half-naked, crying Lady Liberty—after being raped by the president. This, implicitly, fosters the White-supremacist myth of the rapacious Black male’s lusting after
White women.

The irony is: the gall showing a Black man raping Lady Liberty—when Black women were raped, systematically, by the Slave-master ancestors of those drawing these vile cartoons. These despicable depictions illuminate the hate within the hearts of far too many people. Hudnall, Lash and Breitbart are stirring that hate for political profit.


"Speaking Truth To Empower."



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