Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The New Yorker Debate

So far, I've heard that this is going to hurt Obama, that it insults people who mistakenly believe he is a Muslim, and that is is borderline racist and not at all funny. I disagree with three of these points, and have no objection to the other.

First, my non-objection: I think the ignorant people who believe Obama is a Muslim deserve to be chided, even mocked. It may not be polite to do so, but I can hardly feel for the people whose contribution to our democratic process is to vote based on reckless disregard for the duties of a citizen of this republic.

With all due respect to those who took offense, I cannot see the basis for a complaint of racism in this cartoon. Barack Obama is the presumptive nominee of his party for the Presidency - he is going to be the subject of political cartoons. We are going to have to be a lot less sensitive, or racism charges are going to be as common as blog posts.

Whether the cartoon is funny at all is open to debate - I think the humor behind the typical New Yorker cover is always a bit wry anyway, and this cover is in keeping with that approach to humor.

In any case, what this debate reveals is that it is almost as risky to present a caricature of Obama as it would be to present the image of the prophet Mohammed.

Although I disagree with the criticism of the New Yorker, I also disagree with the criticism of Obama's spokesman. I find nothing offensive about the cover, but I think it was brilliant of Obama's people to pump up the volume.

Consider the possibility that this raging discussion will force everyone to acknowledge, repeatedly, that Obama is a member of the Established Church of Christian America - a card-carrying, church-going, flag-pin-wearing, Jesus-worshipping Christian - not a Muslim. That should put a dent in the 13% of America who haven't got the message yet - and maybe some of those under-informed folks will have less reason to go to the polls on Nov 4.

No need to save America from Islam today? Okay, I'll stay home.

This flap is much better than Obama repeatedly asserting his religious credentials -- I am not a Muslim, really -- that bit is offensive to anyone who loves the First Amendment.

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posted at 9:54:00 AM by Neil

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