Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Comment on a recent New Yorker magazine cover

I recently wrote about the efforts to 'swift boat' the Obama campaign but here is an episode that might inadvertently help these very efforts…

The recent ruckus over the New Yorker magazine featuring Barack and his wife Michelle on the front cover as a Muslim husband fist thumping his terrorist garbed wife is a fine piece of satire that pokes holes at the efforts by his detractors to smear his campaign who use these very props to reinforce imaginary stereotypes.

Nothing wrong with this. Fine piece of political art and enjoyable.

The only problem is that the number of people who read the New Yorker and understand the subtlety in its satirical art is exceedingly small compared to the multitudes who hear snatches, bits and pieces through water cooler conversations and other gossip exchange mediums. The New Yorker fracas will help these multitudes subconsciously connect the words Obama, terrorist and Muslim and solidly any false ideas that they might have had about these stereotypes. In my view, this will ultimately give the doubters and naysayer a reason to doubt and say ‘I told you so’ more. While the New Yorker cover may have been designed with the good intention to poke fun at the rumor mongering crowd that feeds off people’s insecurities, the exercise may have opened up unintended consequences in its wake whose effects only time will tell.

Believe nothing against another but upon good Authority: Nor report what may hurt another, unless it be a greater hurt to others who conceal it.” - William Penn (1644 – 1718) Some Fruits of Solitude, 145, 1693

'Darkey in a watermelon', Newspaper advertisment for childrens toy from the 1940's (from here)

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