A cartoon by Sean Delonas in today's New York Post, owned and run by Rupert Murdoch, is beginning to generate significant outrage. Condemnation of this cartoon has already come from all across the spectrum, from Reverend Al Sharpton to the Huffington Post to the British paper, "The Guardian". The cartoon plays off of the recent tragic events in Stamford, Connecticut where a domesticated chimpanzee attacked the owner's friend leaving the friend in the hospital fighting for her life. After the owner stabbed the chimpanzee multiple times to get the chimp off her friend the chimpanzee ran off into the neighborhood and had to be eventually shot and killed by police. The cartoon likened the author (an apparent reference to President Barack Obama) of the stimulus bill with an out of control chimpanzee (a reference to the events in Connecticut) that needed to be shot and killed.
Besides some of the obvious overtones of this cartoon, a couple of the more subtle aspects are equally quite disturbing and could lead many people to question the author's intent. Both cops in the cartoon are white and the "Beware of Dog" sign on the telephone pole in the cartoon is a very subtle and historical reference to the South using dogs to control and terrorize blacks. Even under South African apartheid, the use of police dogs to terrorize black people was a well known and open policy. Some might have given the cartoonist a little more slack if he had not used the symbolism of the "Beware of Dog" sign and made one of the two cops black.
The use of vicious police dogs and fire hoses against black children in Birmingham, Alabama by klansman and sheriff "Bull" Connor was one of the flashpoints that allowed the civil rights movement, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, to get the attention of the whole world. African Americans and black South Africans know all to well what the "Beware of Dog" symbolism means. In the coming days many will question whether this was truly an accidental inclusion in the cartoon.
If the intent truly is to use the "Beware of Dog" symbolism as a means of intimidation then there is no excuse for this kind of blatant racism. And the subtle overtones of threatening the life of our President should NOT be condoned and given a mere slap on the wrist. If this is not an incitement of violence towards our President then the cartoonist and Rupert Murdoch need to explain what they were trying to portray in a coherent and believable fashion.