Monday, July 14, 2008

New Yorker Magazine Offends Obama Camp with Political Cartoon

The U.S. Ministry of Political Correctness has been alerted to a New Yorker Magazine cover cartoon featuring Michelle with a rifle slung across her back and fist-bumping with husband Barack dressed in Islamic-style robes. Right wing conspiracy? Karl Rove’s behind the scenes manipulation of the liberal media? Somehow it will all end up that way, but first we must recognize that New Yorker is a liberal publication with an audience of upscale Upper Eastsiders-Westsiders and a coterie of poor, wannabe intellectuals like myself. Yeah, I read the New Yorker sometimes at the Public Library because I can’t afford the sticker price. It’s clever in an insider sort of way, especially about things of concern to New York City. When I say “things of concern to New York City” in this context, I mean to exclude the other four boroughs. New Yorker covers them, of course, but not the way it covers itself in the mantle of political correctness. It covers Harlem, Brooklyn, and Queens, and Staten Island with a patronymic attitude which imitates philanthropy but bequeaths no money to the cause. You’ve got to hate the magazine while you rarely miss reading it (unless you live in Idaho). The magazine also tells you about all the great entertainment events in NYC that commoners mostly can’t afford to attend.

Anyway, the poor cartoonist is now put in the embarrassing position of explaining how the piece is meant to satirize the “bitter people clinging to guns and religions” in Pennsylvania and the Private Idahos of the world. Keep in mind that the explanation and apologies are not meant for New Yorkers who are typically very sophisticated about such things. As a barometer of how simple it is, consider that I would have got it myself, even without the nationwide prompting.

There is screaming from the Obama campaign and here’s what Campaign spokesman Bill Burton an Obama campaign guy had to say:
“The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama’s right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree.”
The quote was lifted from the Fox News website—I trust this is a “fair use” of the line. But how does Burton know the “most readers will see it as tasteless?” It’s likely that most readers will see it for what it is and yawn. Whether it’s offensive or not is secondary to the 1st Amendment rights and we’re treading on soft ground here.
What I’d really like to talk about is the degree to which European political viruses have infected America. You may remember the murder of Dutch film director Van Gogh at the hands of an Islamic extremist angered at the filmmaker’s depiction of Islam. Just recently, a Dutch cartoonist was jailed overnight for cartoons mocking a variety of sacred cows. Then there were the newspaper riots in Denmark for the same reason. All of this occurs in an environment in which you can presume to make art out of crucifixes in the pissoir and call Italians “garlic noses” from the pulpit and so forth.
In any case, I’m really glad we are imitating the Europeans as Barack Obama says we should be. Our Ministry of Political Correctness is only in its infancy but will soon show the maturity which is exemplified in the Dutch model. I am glad, too, that I am taking Spanish lessons (really, I am) so that we can issue decrees of political correctness in a language understood by all except the Lithuanians, the Thais, the Russians, the Chinese, the Turks, the Armenians, the… well, you get the drift, don’t you?

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