Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mr. Murdoch Is Obama Really a Chimp?

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Mr. Rupert Murdoch it’s certainly no surprise to you that New York Post Editor-in-Chief Col Allan would hotly defend the racist Post cartoon comparing President Obama to a chimp. That’s what your shock and smut dealing Post is in the business of doing and it does it well. The idea of course is to get the tongues furiously wagging, get enraged emails, letters and phone calls pouring in, and then put forth the predictable defense calling this and other inflammatory cartoons a parody, a free speech right, and harmless spoofery. Allan didn’t stop there. He couldn’t resist the urge to take a swipe at Al Sharpton, branding him with the standard tag of race baiter and media hound for daring to call out the Post on the vile cartoon.

The furor might have drawn little more than a public yawn and shrug except for two two small points. One is the long, sordid and savage history of racist stereotyping of African-Americans. A few grotesque book titles from a century ago, such as The Negro a Beast, The Negro, a Menace to American Civilization, and the Clansman depicted blacks as apes, monkeys, bestial, and animal like. The image stuck in books, magazines, journals, and deeply colored the thinking of many Americans of that day.

Yes, Mr. Murdoch, it’s true that was a long time ago, and as Allan intimated in his lame defense of the Post cartoon, no sober person could seriously believe that anyone would liken the President or for that matter any black to a chimp. Unfortunately, a lot still do.

That’s the second small point about the Post cartoon. Post Cartoonist Sean Delonas could so casually and easily depict Obama as a monkey because that image didn’t die a century, half century, decade, or even a year ago. In fact, exactly a year ago, Penn State researchers conducted six separate studies and found that many Americans still link blacks with apes and monkeys. Many of them were young, and had absolutely no knowledge of the vicious stereotyping of blacks of years past. Their findings with the provocative title "Not Yet Human: Implicit Knowledge, Historical Dehumanization and Contemporary Consequences," in the February 2008 issue of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, was published by the American Psychological Association.

Please keep in mind Mr. Murdoch that the overwhelming majority of the participants in the studies bristled probably as undoubtedly you would at the faintest hint that they had any racial bias. But the animal savagery image and blacks was very much on their minds. The researchers found that participants, and that included even those with no stated prejudices or knowledge of the historical images, were quicker to associate blacks with apes than they were to associate whites with apes.

This was not simply a dry academic exercise. The animal association and blacks has had devastating real life consequences. In hundreds of news stories from 1979 to 1999 the Philadelphia Inquirer was much more likely to describe African Americans than Whites convicted of capital crimes with ape-relevant language, such as "barbaric," "beast," "brute," "savage" and "wild." And jurors in criminal cases were far more likely to judge blacks more harshly than whites, and regard them and their crimes as savage, bestial, and heinous, and slap them with tougher sentences than whites.

The Post cartoon, Mr. Murdoch, was the complete package. It depicted violence, death, brutality, incitement, and animal like imagery. The topper was the not so subtle inference that the target of the chimp depiction and more was an African-American male, namely President Obama.

In recent days, Mr Murcdoch you’ve dropped a hint or two that you want to put the word balance back into the vocabulary of those who run your media empire. You can start by issuing this statement.

“News Corporation pledges that the Post’s offensive cartoon will not be circulated, or reprinted, or syndicated. Further, we have zero tolerance toward racially insensitive and inflammatory cartoons or editorial depictions of African-Americans and other ethnic groups. Finally, we apologize for the Obama cartoon and pledge in the future that the Post and other Murdoch entities will hold to the highest standard of editorial sensitivity in our cartoons.”

You’ll issue that statement Mr. Murdoch if you are personally repelled by the comparison of President Obama to a chimp. That is so, right Mr. Murdoch?

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is How Obama Won (Middle Passage Press, January 2009).


Moanerplicity said...

Murdoch is a filthy rich, egregiously out-of-touch, dyed-in-the-wool racist and bigot. I don't think anyone with a lick of sense and sensitivity who has ever read The Post, or watched the Fox News Network could not recognize the racist slant in many of their articles and depictions of people of color. The message is very clear.

During the Central Park rape case of the early 90s, it was the FRONT page of Post that declared those young boys to be "BEASTS!"

When a man like Spike Lee, a native New Yorker and a Black Man, rec'd an Oscar nomination for Do The Right Thing, this accomplishment rec'd NO mention in The Post. Yet, a few years later when Spike's father was arrested in a Washing Square Park round-up after being caught with a 10 dollar bag of smack, THAT MADE THE FRONT PAGE of the Post. Do the math.

That was the year I stop buying The Post. I recognized that their agenda was to shame and demonize, particularly Black men, whenever possible.

This latest insult, though outrageously hurtful, is not exactly shocking to me.

For those blacks who still buy and read that rag, yes, by all means, they should boycott it.

My only question to them is: what took you so long?



Wattree said...

The NYP cartoon is not only racist, but it sends a message to every racist looser in the country that they can become a hero by assassinating the president. Thus, soeone needs to be arrested.

Scott said...

First, when did President Obama "write" the Stimulus bill? He punted that activity to Nancy Pelosi and Congress.
Second, it's obvious to anyone that doesn't look at the world through Racial tinted glasses that this cartoon is in the spirit of the career builder commercials that mock poor companies as being run by chimps. Last time I checked, congress has always been lauded as a dysfunctional group of self-serving people, hence the comparison to the chimp filled companies on the career builder commercials.
I for one am sick and tired of the black "leadership" in this country looking for any opportunity to be outraged, especially when there is none. This is just dishonest and casts doubt when real incidents of racism exist. SHAMEFUL!

Scott said...

Wattree, you are very misguided....Chimp = Congress, not Obama.
It should also be noted that it is liberal Obama supporters that have filled the media with Bush assassination fantasy movies, video games, etc over the last 5 years. I guess I missed your calls for arrests back then?