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US race outrage: Cartoon likens Obama to chimp

world Updated: Feb 20, 2009 01:39 IST
V Krishna

As some people in India should know, it is difficult to get the racism monkey off your back.

In this case, it was a chimpanzee. A cartoon in Wednesday’s New York Post shows two policemen standing over a chimpanzee lying in a pool of blood. One of the policemen holds a smoking gun, while the other is saying, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”

The cartoon appeared a day after President Barack Obama signed the $787-billion stimulus bill he had championed, and two days after a pet chimpanzee that had run amok was shot dead by the police.

A lot of people were outraged, and some protested outside the paper’s office. “How could the Post let this cartoon pass as satire?” said Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists. “To compare the nation’s first African-American commander-in-chief to a dead chimpanzee is nothing short of racist drivel.”

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said: “I have not seen the cartoon, but I don’t think it’s altogether newsworthy that I don’t spend a lot of time reading the New York Post.”

The Post defended the cartoon. “The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut,” said editor-in-chief Col Allan. “It broadly mocks Washington’s efforts to revive the economy.”

Cartoonist Sean Delonas told CNN the controversy was ridiculous. “Do you really think I’m saying Obama should be shot? I didn’t see that in the cartoon,” Delonas said.

Readers may remember the controversy in Australia, where India spinner Harbhajan Singh faced charges of racism after Australian cricketer Andrew Symonds said Singh had called him a monkey.

(With inputs from agencies)