'Racist' cartoon angers New Yorkers

By Marlene Naanes

Angry New Yorkers yesterday called for a boycott of The New York Post, the firing of the paper’s editor and cartoonist and even a criminal investigation into an editorial cartoon they considered racist.

The cartoon shows two police officers who just shot dead a chimpanzee saying “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.” A chimp was shot dead in Connecticut after attacking a woman Monday, and President Barack Obama signed off on the economic stimulus bill Tuesday. The cartoon led some to infer that the chimp represented the president.

“This is nothing more than a sick racist mind at work. … Not only should the editor be fired, but there should be a front-page apology to the president of the United States who you have characterized as a primate,” Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Brooklyn) said at a protest of about 25 people outside the Post’s headquarters yesterday. “You not only have offended people of color, you have offended millions of people who voted for the president of the United States.”

The elected officials will also have a noon protest today in front of the newspaper, and some are calling for a U.S. Department of Justice Investigation, saying the cartoon went beyond just racism and depicted the president’s assassination.“I’m insulted, and I’m very upset,” said Stephanie Woods, 42, of Coop City. “[The cartoon is] not funny — it’s very offensive. It’s a very tragic story with the monkey. I’m upset on both ends.”

The New York Post’s editor-in-chief, Col Allan, said the cartoon was a parody of the chimpanzee’s shooting while criticizing the stimulus bill.

“It broadly mocks Washington’s efforts to revive the economy,” Allan said.

The cartoonist, Sean Delonas, has drawn controversial depictions before, once overemphasizing the size of The Rev. Al Sharpton’s rear-end and another time commenting on same-sex marriage with an image of a man and a sheep donning a bridal veil. Sharpton and his National Action Network, along with many other black groups, denounced the cartoon.

Cartoonist Ted Rall, a syndicated editorial cartoonist for Universal Press Syndicate and Association of American Editorial Cartoonists President, said he does not believe Delonas, who he does not know, meant to be racist. He used a common ploy of combining two big news stories into one cartoon, however, he noted a cartoonist tries to avoid using stereotypical caricatures of minorities.

“Normally you end up with a dumb joke — in this case it’s racially insensitive,” Rall said of the technique.

Rall added that it is an editors’ job to reign in their cartoonist.

Free speech advocates noted that the flap ironically may invigorate the First Amendment, the whole purpose of which is to invite, dispute and exchange views.

"Newspapers shouldn't be timid,” said Ronald Collins, of the First Amendment Center in Washington, D.C. “That defeats the purpose of having editorial cartoons. On the other hand, if they can dish it out, they should be able to accept it. ... They'd better be ready to put on their flak jackets."

Emily Ngo contributed to this report.

Tags: new york post , delonas , barack obama , racism , cartoon , politics

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