24 February 2009

If We're Truly "Over It"

"Pigs were seen flying over the United States Capitol today. In other news, Rupert Murdoch apologized."
The New York Post Chairman apologized for the cartoon (below) that compared President Barack Obama to chimp in a recent incident in Connecticut. A violent chimpanzee had attacked a woman and was shot to death by police there.

In a statement in the paper, Murdoch said he wanted to "personally apologize to any reader who felt offended, and even insulted." He also said the paper would try harder to be more sensitive.
Mr. Murdoch said the cartoon was only intended to "mock a badly written piece of legislation."
First, let me take a moment and retrieve my jaw from the floor. More sensitive? Huh?

Second, let's point out that our new President, like any political leader, is open to criticism. Yes, there is a honeymoon period. But this stuff goes along with the office. It's part of the glamour and glitz. It's part of the daily grind and perks. It's attention. It's just more attention. It's the equivalent of a second grader pulling the pigtail of a girl in front of him. Yes, this time, he pulled too hard, but I don't see the "girl" in this case crying about it.
(And our "second grader"/Rupert Murdoch is looking at share prices of News Corp. stock off 75% of peak, his COO of movies and TV is leaving in June. You gotta think more than mere regret, Rupert is feeling BAD.)
But at a certain point, we have the obligation to get past the fact that "oh my goodness, we elected an African American. It's historic, it's ground-breaking, it's amazing, it's... just another American President." If we're going to say we made history and got past racism, we need to get past it in every way.
We have to put away the "Obama 2008" buttons, the Obama hats and mufflers, and step aside of his race and get on with the business of watching him run the country. And being critical of it. That is, if we truly are past the race issue?
Yes, maybe the cartoon was tasteless, but the animal in question was a chimp, it had died, and that was the news of the day. That poor dead wild animal/household pet was at the forefront of New Yorker's minds. And the economic stimulus was right there along with it.
Wasn't the cartoon more offensive because it depicted our new chosen leader lying dead? And less so because it showed him as another news figure, however poorly, tastelessly chosen?
If we are ever going to past racism in this country, then we have to accept a few missteps along the way.

No comments: