Monday, July 14, 2008

The New Yorker



I’m appalled at the July 21 cover of The New Yorker, which rather straightforwardly illustrates many of the recent smears against the Obamas. Is this somehow different from Fox News asking whether the Obamas touching fists is a “terrorist fist jab”? In what way is it satire, as opposed to reinforcement, to draw a picture of exactly the garbage that right-wing radio hosts and callers are constantly spewing?



The editors of The New Yorker should be ashamed of themselves.

Added later:

I, and many others, condemn the Obama cover of The New Yorker. I think it was mean and stupid for them to publish that cover. I have told them that I am considering canceling my long-time subscription because of it, and I would encourage other readers to do likewise. Free speech is meant to protect the public discourse, and condemnation is sometimes an important part of that public discourse. I would be happy to see readers cancel their subscriptions, advertisers pull their ads, and newsstands return that issue; a serious marketplace failure would be an appropriate consequence of a spectacular failure in judgment.

None of that is censorship. I am not advocating interfering with their means of publication or wishing for any governmental sanctions. I just don’t think people should listen to them or give them money. It is important to differentiate between respect for the right to speak and respect for what is said.

8 comments:

Vardibidian said...

See, I haven't looked at the actual cover yet, but I thought it was funny. I mean, to me, the joke is that simply by straightforwardly illustrating the garbage, you mock it. It mocks itself, practically.

Now, the part that I do find offensive (although I say that without being actually offended) is that part of the preposterousness pictured is simply the idea of a President in a Nation of Islam outfit. Now, I get that, as things are, it is preposterous that somebody from the Nation of Islam would be elected President, just as (f'r'ex) the idea of a President with a black hat and payess is preposterous, but the preposterousness is itself offensive.

So while I think it's funny to actually depict the idea that fist-bumping makes a person un-presidential, I think it's offensive to depict the idea that worshiping or identifying as a Muslim makes person un-presidential. Because I'm, you know, inconsistent and have taste.

Thanks,
-V.

Michael said...

I follow the part about some garbage being so insane that it mocks itself, but that doesn’t justify simply repeating the garbage. Is the illustration somehow illustrative?

There is no commentary, no rejection, no questioning, no extension ad absurdum, no reductio ad absurdum; simply a drawing of a set of hateful claims. We don’t learn anything by seeing the words translated into a picture. Would it have been equally funny if they had run one of the smear e-mails in “Talk of the Town” without comment? After all, the garbage mocks itself.

Vardibidian said...

Sorry for leaving two comments in a row, but in between I heard Ryan Lizza (whose profile of Sen. Obama is in the issue) interviewed by Terry Gross. She asked him about the cover, and he said that he hoped that any rational person would find the cover hilarious.

NOTE TO EVERYBODY: There is nothing that every rational person will find hilarious. Hilarity don't work that way.

As I read more reactions (and I still haven't seen the thing), I am moving to the opinion that even if I find it funny, it was still a terrible mistake.

Thanks,
-V.

David said...

See http://www.theartofthepossible.net/2008/07/14/b-hussein-obama/

David said...

D'oh. Let's try that again in-a-HTML-stylee.

See here.

Michael said...

Many commenters elsewhere have suggested ways to make comparable covers for McCain, mostly based on some sense that being nasty to the other candidate would improve the situation. Lisa points out that the right way to have done this cover in the first place would have been to do it exactly as is with the McCains instead of the Obamas. That would have been satire.

Michael said...

The cover that I’d like to see on The Nation would be illustrated dandy Eustace Tilley sitting at the drawing desk and scowling, Klan hood on and top hat set aside in the background in front of the confederate flag, maybe with the butterfly crying. Maybe an angry mob outside the window. Trenchant commentary on the misjudgment of David Remnick alienating long-time readers through sanctioning a cover that many of us see as racist and inexcusable.

David said...

This just in.