As the New York post chimpanzee cartoon February 18 continues to debated among the punditocracy one point needs to be made from a simple journalistic standpoint.
When I was a youngster starting in high school journalism in Los Angeles the one thing we always had, and that any journalistic enterprise of any size or significance possesses, is an editorial desk.
Since we went over the spelling of a high school running back's name as if we were writing up the D-Day Invasion, with our editors insisting we obtain correct information, then how could the New York Post be given any kind of a pass on this one on the rationale of "No harm, no foul, we meant nothing racist"?
It was all, as Post Editor-in-Chief Col Allen labeled it, "clear parody."
Was it clear parody during the bitter, recently concluded 2008 campaign when T-shirts appeared on the American scene showing Obama as a chimpanzee cartoon figure?
How about that song "Barack the Magic Negro"? Was that also all in good clean fun?
Then there were those references to Obama's full name with a very strong emphasis on the "Hussein". Were Arabs supposed to chalk all that up to good old clean fun?
While it is true that names of highly negative character were also applied to Bush, and one lesson to be learned from the Post cartoon is that this entire practice is best left out of American politics, there is an inherent distinction with the Post cartoon and that is race. The KKK and other hate groups have traditionally defamed African Americans as chimpanzees.
Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton, in an Associated Press article, was quoted as labeling the cartoon "troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys."
A differing spin to the cartoon was given by those opting, in place of reverting to the aforementioned points, to focus on the fact that the officer standing next to the policeman who had gunned down the chimpanzee in the cartoon said, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."
Given the gunning down of the chimpanzee, was it a good idea to bring violence into the equation?
Have we not already endured many tragic political assassinations in America with the sixties' deaths of John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers along with seventies' attempts and near successes on the lives of Gerald Ford and George Wallace along with another on Ronald Reagan in 1981 just 69 days into his presidency?
The Post cartoon is a shameful disgrace.