New Yorker's Unforgivable Sin

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[Elections 2003: Commentary]

The closer Barack Obama gets to winning the White House, the more determined his adversaries have become to derail his campaign by any means necessary.

Remember how Hillary Clinton refused to drop out of the race in May because she said that June was the month Bobby Kennedy was assassinated? Hint-hint.

Or how one of her surrogates, former Senator Bob Kerrey, implied that Obama might be a Muslim Manchurian Candidate pre-programmed to hide his true anti-American agenda until after becoming President? Hint-hint.

Similar hateful sentiments have been echoed in the caricature of the Obamas contained on the cover of the July 21st issue of the New Yorker Magazine which shows the couple sharing one of their famous fist-bumps in the Oval Office, ostensibly celebrating soon after his inauguration.

What is disturbing about the controversial tableau is that Barack is depicted in Arab garb complete with turban, and looking suspiciously like Osama bin Laden whose portrait has replaced that of a prior president on the wall. The not so subtle suggestion being made here is that a vote for Obama is a vote for an Islamic radical terrorist.

Meanwhile, Michelle Obama is attacked in a different way, being drawn with a big afro and a machine gun slung over her shoulder in front of a fireplace with a United States flag burning in it. These images are designed to imply that she’s a Sixties-style Black militant who hates her country and advocates a violent revolution.  

How dare the New Yorker put an automatic weapon in Michelle Obama’s hands. Are they trying to get her killed? What the heck is its rationale except to hint that she’s a traitor guilty of treason who deserves to be shot? And why link a natural hairstyle with anti-American sentiments, as if to say that African-Americans who don’t straighten their hair but wear it as God intended are automatically suspicious and unpatriotic.

Listen, this country has a rancid, wretched history of vigilante and state-sanctioned violence when it comes to dealing with Black folks it deems a threat to the status quo. All I have to do is mention a few famous martyrs like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Fred Hampton and Medgar Evers to remind you of that long, ugly legacy of extermination marked by thousands of lynchings and assassinations.      

So, sorry, I’m not buying New Yorker Editor David Remnick’s defense of his periodical’s incendiary cartoon as a satire of popular misconceptions about Obama. That shocking and offensive cover was no sophisticated parody, but rather a scare tactic, a fairly literal prediction of America’s worst nightmare as defined by some race-baiting bigots.

Frustrated at failing to derail his campaign, Obama’s detractors have grown increasingly desperate. And desperate times call for desperate measures. The power elite has ostensibly declared open season on Barack and Michelle as they stand poised on the brink of becoming the first Black President and First Lady of the United States with this thinly-veiled appeal to the redneck class to do polite white society a favor by putting a bullet in their heads.

Remember how Muslims all around the world reacted in unison to that Danish cartoonist’s drawing of the prophet Muhammad with a bomb tucked in his turban?

Well, African-Americans ought to have sense enough to complain to the New Yorker and to boycott all of its advertisers for such an irresponsible, potentially devastating hit job one would expect from the Ku Klux Klan, not from a supposedly intellectual, Ivory-towered publication.


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