The politics of fear is no laughing matter by underground

The New Yorker has attracted criticism from Barack Obama’s campaign team for the cover on its July 21 issue. The image is a cartoon drawn by Barry Blitt and depicts Obama in traditional Muslim dress, “fist bumping” his wife Michell, who is wearing camo pants and has a machine gun slung over her shoulder. In the background is a picture of Osama bin Laden framed on the wall and an American flag lies discarded in the fire place. Campaign spokesman Bill Burton criticised the cartoon saying, “The New Yorker may think… 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”. Never wanting to be left out of the fun, John McCain’s spokesman has also criticised the cartoon. The magazine defended the cover, entitled “The politics of fear”, in a statement:

“The burning flag, the nationalist-radical and Islamic outfits, the fist-bump, the portrait on the wall? All of them echo one attack or another. Satire is part of what we do, and it is meant to bring things out into the open, to hold up a mirror to prejudice, the hateful, and the absurd. And that’s the spirit of this cover.”

The New Yorker magazine also said the cartoon “combines a number of fantastical images about the Obamas and shows them for the obvious distortions they are”. And I endorse this message!

Satire is an effective means of highlighting the absurdity of ridiculous arguments or comments, in this case the criticism the Democratic nominee has faced, from his religious beliefs (is he Muslim to is he a follower of a radical black Christian preacher?) to his patriotism (where is his lapel flag?!). Almost as though they have conceded that Barack Obama can not be countered on issues, detractors have resorted to personal attacks to try slow his momentum. As successfully as Obama has managed to capture voters imagination with his rhetorical (however hollow it may often be), critics have succeeded in convincing people of outright lies with misinformation campaigns. Fox News has been at the forefront of these attempts, in particularly in respect to E D Hill’s “terrorist fist bump” comment and Liz Trotta’s assassination comment, but also consistently in their “news” bulletins and commentary shows, highlighting the networks lack of both fairness and balance. The network particularly likes to emphasis the candidates middle name, Hussein, or his surname’s likeness to Osama (although other networks have made the same error), attempting to make a dishonest and disgusting link between Barack and two Middle Eastern villains. Smear emails have done the rounds, trying to play up Obama’s Muslim ties in what is another disgusting and racist attack. When he was found to not be Muslim enough, he was found to be the wrong sort of Christian. Obama has even had to set up a website, entitled “Fight the smears”, countering all the misinformation that is being used against him. It is apparent that his opponents have become rather desperate, mainly because McCain has very little electoral appeal, as he lacks the charisma and optimism of Obama, and he does not have the strong support of the evangelicals and conservative base that bought George w Bush to power.

The cartoon succeeds in reflecting this desperation. It’s readership is an intelligent demographic after all, who will certainly understand the purpose of the satirical image. So calm down Barack!

Barry Blitt’s other covers for the magazine are brilliant! The guy is a genius, who certainly knows what he is doing. Sorry Obama, but this latest cover is just as good as his other masterpieces, if not his best.


2 Comments so far
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The only reason that this Mr. & Mrs. Obama satire DOES have impact — and may very likely spread — is because like all good satire, or good humor for that matter, there’s more than a germ of truth in it. Otherwise, the satire would utterly roll off the Obamoids’ backs, having no impact.

Comment by Malloy

The reaction to the New Yorker cover has been absurd.

If there is still someone out there who a) has never heard the rumor that the Obamas are America-hating Black separatist Muslim terrorists, but b) would believe as much if he heard it–is it really very likely that the cover of The New Yorker will provide his first exposure to those ideas?

The idea that it is racist is nonsense: the Afro and fist-bump are not generalized racial caricatures, but rather direct allusions to specific accusations leveled at the Obamas. The right’s coöption of each concept is fair game for satire, and it’s not clear how artist Barry Blitt could have depicted them in a non-racially specific way.

I have much more to say on these subjects here.

Comment by Holy Prepuce

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