Wednesday, February 18, 2009


My gut reaction to the cartoon below, by Sean Delonas of the New York Post, isn't the same as that of Al Sharpton, the Huffington Post, Gawker, and others -- I'm not ready to say that Delonas is taking a racist swipe at Barack Obama:

The cartoon alludes, of course, to a recent story about a chimpanzee in Connecticut that was shot after attacking a woman, a story the Post has been flogging for days.

Yeah, I know -- I'm the guy who just got through telling you that J.D. Hayworth was blaming Jews when he named Chuck Schumer and George Soros as the prime culprits in the economic meltdown.

I stand by that. This feels different, though. The chimp in this picture isn't lanky and lean with a long face and outsize ears, the way Delonas draws Obama:

Obama-as-chimp fits the style of amateur-hour racists, but pro Obama-bashers know that analogy doesn't sync up very well with the poised, polysyllabic Obama we see every day. (That's why the pros give us subtler racist digs like The Wall Street Journal's "Driving Mr. Daschle.") Also, the wingnut line is that Obama himself didn't write the bill -- he left it up to the evil Reid and Pelosi. And finally, if the chimp is Obama, then Delonas is depicting a presidential assassination. This stuff, at least when the pros are doing it, usually avoids that level of eliminationism -- it's all about belittling and humiliation.

And yet, and yet ... I look at the most recent Post story about the Connecticut chimp and I read this:

Each night, Sandra Herold and her beloved chimp, Travis, would share a glass of wine before snuggling in bed together.

The Connecticut widow says she still cannot fathom how that loving animal, whom she raised as her "child," could turn violent, but when he began to maul her friend Charla Nash Monday, Herold said she didn't hesitate to stop him -- even if it meant killing him.

"I had to get a shovel, then a knife to get Travis off of Charlie," the visibly shaken woman said yesterday....

Nash, who sustained horrific injuries to her face and hands, had surgery at Stamford Hospital and will be transferred to a hospital in Ohio for extensive reconstructive surgery, friends said....

It feels like a racist cautionary rape/miscegenation tale from the Jim Crow era, doesn't it?

I still think Delonas believes the stimulus, not Obama, is the savage beast you shouldn't snuggle with because cozying up to it will encourage a vicious attack. But the fact that he got from that story to this cartoon makes me unsure what to think.


MORE: At the very least, Delonas should learn how to spell grade-school words.

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