Monday, July 14, 2008

Muslim Obama and Terrorist Wife

This is the July 21, 2008, cover of The New Yorker magazine. The magazine says that artist Barry Blitt intended to poke satirical fun at those folks who want voters to believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim and his wife a Black Panther terrorist.

The cover is entitled "The Politics of Fear" and it became available in the US today.

Notice the picture/painting of Osama bin Laden on the wall and the burning flag in the fireplace of what is supposed to be the Oval office. All of which is centered around that Black conspiritorial fist-bump.

Is all of this funny? Obama campaign spokesperson, Bill Burton, does not think so. Burton said that:
"The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, 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."
Senator McCain does not find the cover funny. He called it "totally inappropriate and frankly I understand if Senator Obama and his supporters would find it offensive."

The New Yorker does not understand why there is so much fuss over the cover. David Remnick, the editor, said the cover "combines a number of fantastical images about the Obamas and shows them (the images) for the obvious distortions they are."

What do you think? Is this satire or smear? Should folks lighten up and see the "fanstastical distortions" intended by The New Yorker?

I can see why the Obama people are touchy and even offended. Do they have a point?


Picture Credit


Erica said...

I think that the cover is racist in every aspect. Could it have been avoided though? I don't think so. If Obama was straight forward about his "blackness" or lack there of, along with his muslim heritage it still couldn't have been avoided. I think McCain is in all sincerity indeed find it funny and may take advantage of it.

This cover has everything to do with race as with this "election".

Ridwan said...

Hi Erica thanks for commenting. I expect that a lot of folks will find the cover inappropriate and racist.

I was reading some of the comments on this blog:

This one grabbed my attention:
If this picture is put on a tshirt, I'll buy one and so will most of America! Buhhhh byeeee, Barack and Michelle! (Posted by: Janet | Jul 14, 2008 1:13:12 PM)

Race won't go away in this race :0)

Peace Erica,

Shus li said...

When I heard about this cover on the New Yorker, I was in disbelief and had to look it up online. Frankly, I found the imagery outrageously offensive.

Then, I heard Terri Gross (NPR) interview Bill Blitt (?) today, and he explained that HEY, IT'S SATIRE of how many Americans think about the Obama camp. So, now I think the imagery is outrageously offensive.

Mental images are everything -that's why logos are protected so fiercely, right? And here is the New Yorker, for crying out loud, planting these mental images into everyone's subconscious.

That could explain my sudden urge to vote for Obama...:)

Be very well, Ridwan.


Ridwan said...

Hello Shusli. Good to hear from you sista.

I think you are right about the imagery and what it suggests to those Obama detractors.

I also think that 1st Amendment rights is important. I would not support a ban of the cover but I think it is important that folks raise their voices to say why it is problematic.

I wonder how much this will hinder or help the Obama campaign. Maybe like you some folks will be spirited to vote for him now.

It is just hard to measure what this cover will do hey.

Peace Shusli.

miranda said...

I like the cover for the satire it displays. It exaggerates on the beliefs many hold. Perhaps rather than merely deeming the image as offensive and immediately rejecting it, we can use it to open up discussion and begin breaking down the stigmas and stereotypes of what it means to be Muslim. I think we should look beyond Obama's choice of religion and focus on the underlying issue, the ignorance of man and thus working towards logical reasoning and eliminating fallacies.

This of course never seems to the road traveled, so I guess it is better it happened now for Obama rather than in October.

Ridwan said...

Hello Miranda! It is good to hear from you and thanks kindly for commenting.

It would be great if the cover could bring us to talk about the issues you raise.

Obama could have started today but he chose again to tell the NAACP that he won't stop telling Blacks to take more responsibility for their lives.

I hope someone asked him about his vote for Fisa.

Nontheless, your comment raises an important issue that sorely needs address. We need to break down stereotypes and stigmas that foster inequality and hostility.

I also suspect that you are right about the timing of this cover.

It would probably hurt more in October ... but then again it is likely that the image(s) will reappear elsewhere.

Thanks again Miranda.

Peace to you,

Anonymous said...

I love satire, and this is not it. I'd have to agree that the cover advances the "climate of fear" it supposedly undermines.

A useful definition of satire from Wikipedia goes...
...the purpose of satire is not primarily humor in itself so much as an attack on something of which the author strongly disapproves, using the weapon of wit. The essential point... is that "in satire, irony is militant". This "militant irony" (or sarcasm) often professes to approve the very things the satirist actually wishes to attack.

If the cartoon were satirical it would have a clever twist that undermines the obvious fear-inducing image of Obama as an Osama.

Exaggeration is not sufficient "militant irony" in a society where a climate of fear prevails. It just underscores the fear. If, say, the cartoon were a thought-bubble sprouting from McCain's worried head, maybe then it would be poking militant fun at conservative fear... but not as it stands now.

Nice one, thanks for the post Ridwan.

Ridwan said...

"Exaggeration is not sufficient
'militant irony' in a society where a climate of fear prevails. It just underscores the fear."

Excellent point Niteflyer.

You make a very persuasive case that the cover is not satire; there is no "clever twist" for sure.

Thanks kindly for your comment.


Kashea said...

The fact that this as an attempt at satire is the only funny thing about this particular issue. The thing that I feel most people are missing in this whole discussion is not the fact that it is Barack Michelle are being depicted in such a way. It is the fact that what they ae depicted in are symbols of American fear. What is says is much more than what is says. It says that lots of Americans beleive that Black Militancy and Radical Islam are workng in conjucion with each other to topple America. It says that if you havre a Black Militant mind, you are a threat and if you are a Muslim you are a threat.
The whole cover enforces the fears of America and more spicifically White America. It connatates every kind of fear about Religion, Race, Sex, Homophobia etc. Michelle looks like Angela Davis with the afro, very intimidating with the gun and the fatigues with the doc martins dfinately strike the imagery of Militant Black Feminism so therefore she's angry with a gun and a possible lesbian. I don't know much about the New Yorker with the exception that Very rich left leaning White people read it. With that in mind, do you think that the article was geared towards Black and or Muslim audiences? Would it be just as satirical and funny to dress McCain up as a Klansmen and his Wife as a Drug Cartel Pusher? We have more evidence to show that as being true than we do to show the opposite. More people have died in the country due to drugs/alcohol and Imperial Racism than to Black and or Muslim Militancy. Why didn't then left leaning New Yorker make that kind of satiircal cover?
The only good thing about this is that it is now out in the open for people to see and to really talk about. They (media, government etc) have tried to sweep the racial issue under the rug a lot in this election year and every time they do it it comes back to bite them in the ass.

Ridwan said...

Hey there brother Kashea. It is always good to hear from you.

You make excellent points B. Niteflyer above also pointed out the manner that fear was being twisted.

The New Yorker is a liberal
'artsy' magazine. I have paged through one on occasion but did not see me or mine and moved one

I like how you point to the femisista stereotype. The Angela Davis do and the AK47, presumably.

Michelle a Black Panther! Hmmmm. That is not satire but just straight-up fiction.

Obama is trying to say that he is not a Muslim in a kinder way. I would be happier if he just came out and said there was nothing wrong with being a Muslim.

So yeah the cover is in bad taste. There was no Muslim in the truck that dragged James Bird to his brutal death in Texas. And who shot Kendra James?

In the US one has to worry about white racists more than anything else. After 9/11 some redneck walked into a 7/11-type store and killed a Sikh because he thought the brother was a Muslim!

But what does it matter to racists huh brother? Knowing the details is a very unAmerican thing.

We are all the same in the racist mindset. And like Shusli says above the images will remain even if satire was the intent.

You be safe up there and holla on the other side.

Peace and struggle,