Staff Editorial: New York Post compares Obama to monkey: funny, right?

Yesterday morning, The New York Post ran a political cartoon that was an insult not only to the publication itself, but to blacks and the field of journalism.

The cartoon, drawn by Sean Delonas, depicts a dead chimpanzee lying by a sidewalk in a copious pool of gore, chest punctured by bullet-holes. Holding the smoking gun is a police officer who says to his partner, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."

The problems with the cartoon are many and glaring. First, to imply that the chimpanzee was responsible for writing the stimulus bill is an obvious gouge at President Obama, who just signed into law his first major legislative victory. A photo of the president signing the bill into law can be seen on the reverse page.

The comic was apparently a reference to a chimpanzee that was shot dead by police in Stamford, Conn. on Monday after attacking and injuring a woman. Perhaps the intended joke of this strikingly unfunny comic was that the stimulus bill could have been written by a monkey.

But even this limp-wristed attempt at humor is a stretch and it would take some pretty acrobatic contortions of common sense to miss the big picture: The cartoon clearly compares President Obama to a chimp. Depicting blacks as monkeys is a traditionally racist perversion of Darwinism that has endured for centuries. In the past, it has branded blacks with an image of inferiority and legitimized racism with the rubber stamp of "science."

Couple this history with that of police violence against blacks and the picture gets uglier still.

And even if the comparison was made unconsciously, the cartoon still taps into persistent racial steretyopes that exist even today, and the editors at the Post responsible for the cartoon's publication should have caught the problem - if catching it was their intent; the joke that attempts to veil the blatant racism is flimsy at best. What does a woman being seriously injured by his chimpanzee in Connecticut have to do with the stimulus package?

The Post's publication of Delonas' cartoon was not only shoddy journalism, it was a violation of the ethical responsibilities that every publication holds to its readers and an attack on blacks everywhere. The Post owes America a sincere apology, and should it fail in that, readers should register their disdain.