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The New Yorker's incredible gaffe

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted July 21, 2008

It was a massive miscalculation. The liberal intelligentsia over at New Yorker magazine never expected to reinforce the fear-factor felt by many Americans on the subject of Barack and Michelle Obama. The intention of the magazine was to help alleviate concerns about the Obamas and expose the "politics of fear" ostensibly being perpetrated against the couple. However, the magazine's efforts backfired big-time.

July 21, 2008 New Yorker coverApparently, many Americans didn't appreciate the satirical nature of the magazine's cartoon cover, which depicted Michelle Obama as an afro-coiffed, AK-47 toting, Black Panther wannabe, bumping fists with her husband Barack dressed in full Muslim garb, in what appeared to be the Oval Office setting. Just for good measure, a portrait of terror chieftain Osama bin Laden was hung above a fireplace that contained a burning American flag. The scene was rife with noxious symbolism.

From the perspective of the Left-leaning New Yorker, this cartoon was so over-the-top, so grossly offensive, that certainly the average American would grasp the vilification of the Obamas by their conservative and Republican critics. Yes, those big, bad, bigoted conservatives and Republicans had to be exposed for their sins against the Obamas. Besides, the magazine probably figured that their outrageous portrayal of the couple would have the effect of desensitizing the electorate to future attacks upon the Obamas. Then nothing thrown at the Obamas would stick, morphing them into the "Teflon" twosome.

Well, the elites over at the New Yorker not only exhibited wrongheaded thinking, they've managed to bollix-up the works for the Obamas, at least for the short term. Remember, this is a crucial time for Barack Obama as he makes his initial impressions upon voters that are just beginning to focus upon the campaign season. The last thing that candidate Obama needed was a controversial magazine cover that characterized him and his wife in very provocative terms.

That being said, this has been an intriguing episode in journalism: The New Yorker cartoon adeptly tapped into our national psyche's fears and uncertainties about the Obamas, and, amazingly, it was orchestrated by a bunch of screw-ups that purported to be Barack Obama backers. Unfortunately for the New Yorker, many people looking at the cartoon don't think of it as "satire", but rather as a serious statement on the Obama power couple.

Let me be clear: Barack Obama is not a Muslim, and there's certainly nothing wrong with being a Muslim. However, the New Yorker went out of their way to portrayed him as a radical Muslim linked with anti-Americanism and terrorism, and in bed, so to speak, with the far-Left Black liberation movement. Sure, it was supposed to be satire, but it fell flat.

People can free-associate and come up with their own thoughts and interpretations as to the provocative magazine cover. For me, as a conservative, it evoked my worst nightmare: The prospect of a Leftist Barack Obama, as president, who's sympathetic to radical Islam, and an enabler of pariah regimes such as Iran. The cartoon is not exactly a Rorschach test, but you can project onto it at will with varying results, depending on your mindset and political proclivities.

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh had some interesting remarks about the New Yorker controversy. He stated, "This cartoonish cover, here's the bottom line. This New Yorker cover happens to stereotype, not the Obamas. It stereotypes conservatives as racists, sexist throwbacks. That's the intent of this cover: To reinforce that Obama is a victim of right-wing haters lying about him and his wife."

How true! The liberals are always casting themselves as victims of conservatives, even when the liberals are, in fact, victimizing each other as was evident in this matter. ESR

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.

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