New Yorker Obama Cover: Satire or Racist Sensationalism?

By now you’ve heard about the infamous cover of this week’s New Yorker magazine, which is a (presumably) satirical take on all the internet rumors circulated by The Right about Obama–he’s secretly a Muslim, his wife (Michelle Obama) is a cracker-hating Black Revolutionary, burning the flag, and that they are somehow in cohoots Al Qaida–all while doing the infamous fist-bump (called a “terrorist fist-jab” by a Fox News reporter). But wait? Weren’t these same people thinking that Obama was the spitting image of his CHRISTIAN former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright? But I digress.

Their has been a backlash against the New Yorker for publishing the photo, with Obama’s campaign spokesperson, Bill Burton saying “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.”

McCain’s team even said “We completely agree with the Obama campaign, it’s tasteless and offensive.”

The magazine said in a statement today that it “combines a number of fantastical images about the Obamas and shows them for the obvious distortions they are.”

But does this cover really provide a satire, or help to actually rehash fears of Black rebellion (in a post 9-11 anti-Islam context)? In my opinion, there are several issues here.

  1. The New Yorker has a long investigative article on Obama in this issue of the magazine, but it doesn’t deal with the issues the cover of the magazine is tackling.
  2. I subscribe to the New Yorker, and what’s weird about this cover is that the covers very rarely have anything to do with the content of the magazine.
  3. If you don’t know The New Yorker, seeing the photo on its own, does leave one to question whether it is satire or slander.

I think that all the talk about this cover in the press, whether you think it’s is satire (which by definition, according to my Dictionary application employs “the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues,”) or slander, the truth is it does expose and hold up all of the racist stereotypes, and that hyperscrutiny, can perhaps neutralize them. There will obviously be people who want to believe all this, and so they will continue to because, well, they think there’s something wrong with being a revolutionary (the drawing of Michelle for me hearkens to Angela Davis), something wrong with Islam in general, and something suspicious and potentially violent about Blackness in general. And though he is Black, he is not a Muslim, and hardly a revolutionary.

What’s interesting to me is that this cover, done by a liberal magazine, seems to have given Conservatives an opportunity to feign taking the high road, as if they have not been directly responsible for floating these narratives about Obama specifically, and Black people (and Muslims) as a whole for many, many years! Now they can pretend to be outrage by an image they they had every hand in creating.

John McCain: About As Inspiring as Cold Oatmeal

Condi is NOT Running With McCain. Period.

There’s been lot’s of talk coming out of the press about the Republican “Dream Ticket” which would be Senator John McCain and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. There was even a recent poll in New York State that showed with Rice on the ticket, McCain could beat Obama and/or Clinton in a general election. But the truth is, Condoleezza Rice is not running with no John McCain. Period.

Why is the media letting some DC spin doctors spread this drama? According to the Washington Post, the story made its way to the press because “Dan Senor, a GOP political operative, claimed on ABC’s “This Week” that Rice was “actively, actually in recent weeks, campaigning” for the job.”

Bullshit. They are just so desperate to get a Black woman on the ticket to try to combat the momentum Obama has, or to give Black folks a reason to go “Red” if Clinton is the highly unlikely nominee.

Yesterday, Democratic strategist Donna Brazille was on NPR’s News and Notes, and flat out denied that such a thing was possible. And if there’s a Black woman inside Washington who’d know other than Rice, it’s Brazille.

But even before that, Rice was reported by Reuters to have said in press conference in LATE FEBRUARY that “I have always said that the one thing that I have not seen myself doing is running for elected office,” Rice said at a news conference. “I didn’t even run for high school president. It’s sort of not in my genes.”

The media has the memory of a gold fish–and they’re just about as gullible.