Wednesday's Page Six cartoon - caricaturing Monday's police shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut - has created considerable controversy.So, if you've ever had a problem with the Post in the past (which, if you're not a rightwing nutball, you probably have), they are not apologizing to you (especially YOU, Al Sharpton!) because you're only angling for payback—and couldn't possibly have an authentic interest in decrying what, by any reasonable measure, can be construed to imply the president is a fucking chimp.
It shows two police officers standing over the chimp's body: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," one officer says.
It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.
But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism.
This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.
However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.
To them, no apology is due.
Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.
If you're just someone who was offended, without any further agenda, then they apologize—except not really, since "sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon" and the "intent" wasn't racist.
Someone needs to talk to the Post about owning the context.
Once again, let us revisit a statement about intent:
Let me quickly stipulate and clarify that one can unintentionally express racism. That innocent intent, or ignorance of the history of how people of color have been marginalized, does not, however, in any way change the quality of what was being expressed. Something can still be expressed racism even if the speaker's intent was not to oppress people of color. And particularly if it does fit neatly into a historical pattern, it necessarily conjures that pattern of racism, intentionally or not.In that way, the editorial cartoon, by invoking intentionally or not the well-established conflation of African-American men with apes, has transmitted the slur. Whether it was deliberate or ignorant or whatthefuckev doesn't actually matter in terms of whether that pernicious means of dehumanization was perpetuated.
So: Toss out the idea that intent determines racism. And the idea that any of us, or any of the things we say or do, can exist in a void.
What we're then left with is the idea that if something fits into a historical pattern of racism, unavoidably invokes such a pattern, and/or can be overtly quantified as marginalizing people of color, it is an expression of racism.
What the Post needs to do at this point is acknowledge it was problematic for that reason, irrespective of intent, and apologize for it without all the defensive caveats. And then they need to be vigilant about not making the same mistake again, especially if they want us to believe it was a mistake in the first place.
But I'm not going to hold my breath.