The Non-Apology Apology From the NY Post

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The NY Post has issued a editorial statement about “That Cartoon”. Here is the text of the editorial by Col Allan, in full, so you don’t have to visit their site if you have ethical reasons for not wanting to. (I don’t blame you. I went there so you don’t have to.)

Wednesday’s Page Six cartoon – caricaturing Monday’s police shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut – has created considerable controversy.

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.

Period.

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.

As you can plainly see, this is not an apology. An apology is, according to my Random House College Dictionary, “an expression of one’s regret for having injured, insulted, or wronged another.” I see no regrets in that statement, especially the latter third, which is clearly directed at The Reverend Al Sharpton, who is leading protests outside the offices of the New York post. This is not the first time he has done so, nor is it the first time it was necessary that someone do so.

‘So, if you were offended by our offensive cartoon, we apologize. But if you’re one of those people who isn’t happy with us no matter what we do, then we’re not sorry at all that you were offended’, is basically what they’re saying. As Eugene Robinson asked on Countdown tonight, “What if you’re a member of both groups?”

This is one of the problems with latent racism in this country. Non-overt Racists (not the KKK types) tend not to understand why they are racist. They are so out-of-touch with race issues, that they have no idea why what they do is offensive. Sometimes they use words or images that, for all they’ve ever known growing up, is the way you describe some people. Usually it’s their ignorant parents we can thank for that, because people are not born hating people of different races. They learn to hate people of different races from their parents, who usually learned it from their parents, who learned it from who knows where? Bill O’Reilly has said that his grandmother is afraid of young black men. She thinks every one that she sees might try to mug her. Where did she get that idea? Did she have a week where every black kid who walked past her took her purse? I seriously doubt that. But every time she sees some young black kids ahead on the street, she goes to the other side. “That’s not racism,” says O’Reilly, “That’s just fear.”

Some will argue that people are born instinctively wary of those who look different from the people around them, as some kind of survival instinct. But that instinct is no excuse for being nurtured through life in a multi-racial, multi-cultural society such as ours. We aren’t tribal hunter-gatherers out foraging for food, like we were tens of thousands of years ago. When you were out looking for food, and you came across someone who clearly didn’t look like they were from your tribe, you had to fear that they would take your food. I can understand that. There was no “civilization” to speak of in those days.

But we have a civilization because of people who overcame that initial instinct to be wary, and learned that the people who simply looked different weren’t any different in just about any other way. That’s how we came to know the people we know who look different from us today. Because someone, tens of thousands of years ago, overcame that fear and found it wasn’t necessary to be fearful of everyone, once you got to know them. And the more people who were different from you that you got to know, the more you learned we are all more alike than we think. People learned that tens of thousands of years ago.

Why can’t we learn that today?

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40 thoughts on “The Non-Apology Apology From the NY Post

  1. colorofchange.org,,,,has a patition going, check it out if interested…

    Outstanding post’s Wayne and Jane here and at TP..Thank’s…Blessings

  2. I think human tend to not follow their instinct the way all animals should. It isn’t safe to assume somebody is safe because they are white just as it isn’t safe to assume somebody is dangerous because they are black.

    Bad people come in every sex, color and social sector. Why does Michelle Bachmann come to mind?

  3. “That’s not racism,” says O’Reilly, “That’s just fear.”

    And fear can come from the unknown which may be described as accidental ignorance, or from experience, which may be described as accidental knowledge. O’Reilly and his ilk purport these conditions to be both neutral and directly equivalent and thus cannot be blamed for their ‘natural’ conditioning—their words and attitudes are the epitome of innocence that are being consciously misconstrued and distorted for some calculated political agenda!

    But as Wayne notes: “But that instinct is no excuse for being nurtured through life in a multi-racial, multi-cultural society such as ours.”

    Indeed.

    If ‘natural’ ignorance of ‘others’ ( or the unfamiliar) triggers instinctive fear, why then for instance were Native Americans and European settlers able to trade peacefully during the early days of colonization?

    Why did 15th Century Arabs peacefully trade with Europeans when the ‘natural’ experience of the Crusades should have made them both fear and hate Europeans?

    What O’Reilly fails to grasp is that curiosity is as natural an instinct as fear. Even the simplest mammals learn fear, from the examples of their parents or from the results of youthful curiosity.

    If fear becomes the ‘natural’ reaction to the unfamiliar and natural curiosity is subsumed by fear then anything and everything unfamiliar is perceived as dangerous. and a threat.
    But whilst lower mammals tend to have only two options–to fight or flee, humans have a third option and that is to control that which they they fear OR to control fear itself and permit curiosity to help establish a familiarity with the previously unknown as to distinguish between facilitate a clearer distinction between a real threat deserving of fear, and an assumed but unjustifiable threat.

    O’Reilly (and his ilk) clearly sees fear as a ‘natural’ and thus immutable human state. It isn’t.

    The multiculturalism of which Wayne speaks isn’t even ‘modern’, it is ancient.
    We are all reliably informed by about 200o years of corroborated history that multiculturalism was as much a force in the shaping of individuals and nations as was fear—in fact more-so because if fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar had been the ‘natural’ state of the human condition the present travel industry would comprise solely of armies moving about the globe and every nation that could call itself a nation would be constrained by their own resources and live in a constant state of fear and warfare with ‘others’ beyond their physical and psychological borders.

    An over-riding fear of the “unfamiliar” is a learned trait. It was curiosity, not fear, that created human society and that allowed humans to rise above reactionary existence. But such is the variety permitted by the human species within its ranks by overcoming reactionary impulses that it permits the continuation of reactionaries.

    If O’Reilly’s grandmother’s logic which Bill holds as an elemental truth for all was actually true, then Bill wouldn’t be alive today because the English would have wiped-out the Irish, and the Vikings would have wiped-out the Anglo Saxons, and the Saxons would have wiped-out the Angles, and the Romans would have wiped-out the Britons and so on and so on.

  4. Correction to my above comment:

    “to control fear itself and permit curiosity to help establish a familiarity with the previously unknown as to distinguish between a real threat deserving of fear, and an assumed but ultimately unjustifiable threat”.

  5. Let’s be careful not to blame parents for ALL racism. Of course it can be the parents, but sometimes one parent is racist and one is not. It could be friends, or any of a number of influences besides “parents.” Siblings could grow up in the same house and while one may be ignorant, another is not. (It could be talk radio or the GOP but that’s another story).

    • Hi parmcg, welcome to TheZoo. It’s loike with my sister and me. She’s scared mindless of muslims, I don’t care unless someone wants me to dance to their tune. BUt you can’t talk to my sis about it.

  6. Give it a rest people! This was not racism, the Times was equating “monkeys” with “baboons” meaning “not intelligent” and/or “monkey business”.

    It is absolutely worse to by hypersensitive about race issues, making mountains-out-of-anthills, than being a racist.

  7. Oh Tim, baboons are monkeys. Chimps are apes, but since you know everything I guess you already knew that.

  8. Tim,

    Even if you don’t look at the cartoon as racist, you should still be bothered by it. The dead chimp is supposed to represent the author of the stimulus bill. Whether you credit that to the President or to the Speaker of the House (which the cartoonist claimed could be an interpretation), you’re still talking about two cops shooting and killing the author of the stimulus bill and then blithely saying we’ll need a new one.

    And that’s wrong.

  9. You are projecting perceived, deeply ingrained racism onto the unwashed masses. You’re wrong, at least in my case.

    ‘The Stimulus bill is so godawful that deranged monkeys (like that rampaging chimpanzee the cops shot dead a few days before this cartoon appeared) could have written it.’ That’s what I inferred when I looked at this editorial cartoon.

    The cartoon could have just as easily shown some other dead thing that most people infer as being stupid, like a dead clown or something, to get its point across, but that dead, insane chimpanzee was too much to resist. How could you be a self-respecting cartoonist and NOT work that monstrous chimp into your weekly output, it’s almost a matter of principle to incorporate it.

    It is unfortunate (not really, honest!) that some deranged clown hadn’t been shot dead a few days ago by the Stamford CT police, instead of that chimpanzee. All of the world’s cartoonists could have instead equated the writers of the stimulus bill with a bullet-ridden, deranged clown laying dead at the hands of two police officers. The cartoon would have been great, we all would have “gotten it”, and Al Sharpton could have spent his day doing something else to help the people of New York so damaged by the New York Post.

    And most people hate or fear clowns anyway, clowns have no advocacy group, and no one would have cared about the lack of sensitivity on the partof the cartoonists. . .

  10. wilsonrofishing,

    With all due respect, I believe that you are overlooking the symbolism of the victim being whichever person authored the bill, and that person was an elected official.

    As I have said, what if the cop said, “Looks like we’ll need someone else to re-write the Patriot Act.” Would it still be okay? Or would it be an obvious suggestion that the author of the Patriot Act should be shot? That wouldn’t be okay, would it?

    While we’re at it, let’s not overlook the fact that it wasn’t particularly funny to begin with.

  11. I have to say that I didn’t find any of those cartoons, labelled as “loathsome” to be the least bit offensive. They weren’t funny either. But then, maybe I’m looking at them wrong. I thought the whole point of an editorial cartoon was to spark discussion and/or poke fun at whatever the big issue of the day is.

    It seems to me like the fact that everyone’s getting so pissed off about it means that it achieved its goal.

    Then again, I didn’t think of black people at all when I saw the dead monkey. It reminded me of that saying about how 100 monkeys with typewriters could come up with Shakespeare if they had enough time.

    Maybe I’m just ignorant. I’m sure everyone else is right and it was about black people.

  12. Completely agree with the post and with the commenter who said the most disturbing part was that it was like a death threat for “whoever” was responsible for the stimulus bill. I can see no other meaning to this cartoon but an incitement of violence. And by the way, the bill passed so why is the chimp dead on the ground?

    Whether you be O’Reilly, Limbaugh, Delonas, the New York Post or the Republican party; if you’re spending an awful lot of time defending that X isn’t racist then you may want to take a good look in the mirror. Most of us don’t accidentally offend other people constantly.

  13. Let’s consider a fact that no one has mentioned, who is calling up racism is it the one who drew the picture, the one who posted the picture, the one who published the picture, or the one who looked at the picture? I do not condone the picture or caption, nor do I condone Al Sharpton for condemning everything as racial simply because he does not like it. No do I condone his (Sharpton) veiled threat of violence with his remarks about being lions. The main problem here as I see it is no matter what you say, someone will turn it into what they want and make a federal case of it, isn’t that right Rev.

  14. I don’t agree or disagree with what you’re saying. And that’s the basis for what I’m going to say next.

    Put aside the conundrum of whether or not we should accept their piss-poor apology or refuse it as an offensive defense manuever. Dig deeper to the underlying issue: that people jump to conclusions in general, about rhetoric or cartoons and arbitrarily place a label on them–in this case racism. That train of thought says something about the way racism has framed every thought we have about anything, ever. To claim that the monkey is representative of an unfortunate socially-driven outlook is like receiving a plain cupcake and choosing to slather doo-doo on top as icing.

    Whether or not the cartoonist is guilty of viewing blacks that way is irrelevant; it seems to me the problem is how guilty are we of assuming that we are being offended?

    We all know the saying about assumptions.

    • I have to say I was more shocked and upset by the use of violence by those in authority, and the cartoonist then trying to tie it to the Stimulus Bill by making the victim be the author.. That is what took my breath away.. (And not in a good way).
      I saw the news article about the woman being mauled by the crazy chimp (or whatever it was). Not really funny subject matter, but some people are twisted in their sense of humor. But to then make that leap to shooting and killing the author of the Stimulus Bill was too out there. Seriously over the line of decency. And, it made me feel an implied threat. I think that was what really took my breath away.

      And it wasn’t lost on me seeing the chimp lying on the ground dead and bleeding. I’ve seen plenty of graphics over the last year and a half making Barack Obama out to look like a monkey. It is his Stimulus Bill. That doesn’t make me out to be someone trying to find racism in everything I see, it just feels too obvious in this cartoon. And that is incredibly offensive, and upsetting put together with the violence.

      I think this was a targeted shot at one person. Nothing else makes any sense. It isn’t just that it wasn’t funny, it made no sense other than the obvious.
      The guy who drew it is pretty twisted, but the editor who let it through is the guy who needs to answer why.

  15. Unfortunately, daily newspaper cartoonists are cursed with the lack of color options, and doomed to black and white ink until the end of time. This however, does not mean their arguments are as stark.
    As an Asian-American, I feel left out. I move newspapers provide cartoonists with colors to represent every race. This would be not only fair, but also prevent situations like this in the future.

  16. For those whose first reaction was that the ‘cartoon’ was referring to the ‘100 monkeys’ idea: had the cartoonist shown the cops killing both a chimp AND a typewriter, I would not have considered it racist. But does anyone think that all readers of the NY Post are familiar with the ‘100 monkeys/typewriters’ idea? We’re talking the NY Post here, guys. Do you think that the majority of people who saw this ‘cartoon’ are familiar with it either? Even the cartoonist hasn’t latched on to the 100 monkeys scenario as an excuse for his work. Again, in his initial ‘explanation’, he referred inarticulately to Nancy Pelosi – was she supposed to be the dead chimp? As I have said at Think Progress, no matter how you look at ‘That cartoon’, it’s wrong. And no matter how you look at it, it’s not funny.

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  18. Great post’s Lady’s Muse and Jane…I agree..This so called cartoon made me ill…It’s evil, pramote’s killing and is in no way funny.The wacko who drew it and the editor should be fired from the paper..P.B.& J

  19. There are consequences to this cartoon.

    I just called up the New York Post and bought a subscription.

    GOD BLESS AMERICA & FREEDOM OF SPEECH!

    • Cartoonist Matt Davies had an interesting interaction with Sean Delonas (cartoonist from NY Post). He posted on it today:

      The NY POST has issued an “I’m-sorry-you-misinterpreted-and-were-therefore-offended-by-this-cartoon” semi-apology, so thought I’d give you a further update. A couple posts ago I was critical of their cartoonist, Sean Delonas’s cartoons, particularly “the chimp” cartoon in question, which as you know has now taken on a media life of its own. I also said I had never met him. Sean emailed me to say that we were in fact in art school together(!) and had met once. He very politely inferred that he didn’t like what I had written: “ Sorry you don’t like my cartoons. I don’t see a lot of your cartoons, but the ones that I do see I really like. As far as politics, I work for a tabloid. We’re geared more towards entertainment and sensationalism than most papers.”

      There was more.. Anyway, I thought the part about him referring to his employer as a tabloid said a lot..

  20. After reading the above comments, I wonder, were there any political cartoons inferring that Bush should have been shot?

    I don’t recall any.

  21. b1gd1pper,

    If you want waste your money that way, I will defend with my life your constitutional right to do so.

    BTW, I deleted your first comment because you simply repeated it, though with better formatting. No insult was intended by this.

    Thanks for visiting The Zoo.

  22. You have a wonderful way with word’s Dear Wayne..Me not so much..I would of just told the troll to bugger off…..For what you do I thank you and your Lady Jane….Many Blessings

  23. Wayne, you wrote:

    With all due respect, I believe that you are overlooking the symbolism of the victim being whichever person authored the bill, and that person was an elected official. As I have said, what if the cop said, “Looks like we’ll need someone else to re-write the Patriot Act.” Would it still be okay?

    Your primary argument against this cartoon is that it is blatantly racist and that most non-African Americans are too dense to detect the racism in the cartoon, right? Sure it is a tasteless cartoon, and Delonas is not altogether talented, but my argument is that the cartoon is not racist. In could very well have been written about the Patriot Act (I think that legislation could have been written by a bunch of deranged monkeys as well), or any stupid piece of legislation. But your argument is that it’s racist and insensitive. I disagree with you. Tasteless, yes, but racist, no, I still don’t have the vibe after reading your repsonse to my comment.

    But kudos to big Al Sharpton and the national action network for getting out there and exercising their first amendment rights. Hopefully big al will come face to face with some Post staffers, and while he berates their insensitivity, they can ask follow-up questions about his vexing tax problems chronicled in their paper a few months ago.

    Wayne, one more thing. Since you seem to be in tune with racism in the media, I was wondering if you took any action against this cartoon from a few years back, by Jeff Danziger? Isn’t the depiction of then Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, barefoot with numerous “children” and speaking in stereotyped dialect more blatantly racist and offensive to African Americans than the stupid Post cartoon? And did you protest the New York Times for publishing this cartoon in their pages as well as syndicating it to newspapers throughout the U.S.? Just curious.

  24. First of all, on the Danziger cartoon, I never saw it before today. (I don’t buy newspapers and did not have access to the internet at the time.) But I would agree whole-heartedly with the first comment posted at the link you gave me:

    “Wow, that cartoon is pretty disgusting.
    And I’m a liberal.

    I’m no fan of Dr. Rice, but there are ways of disagreeing without being so despicable…”

    Secondly, the problem with the Post cartoon was not simply one of racism. (If you can’t see how it would be racist, then I’m afraid that’s more your problem than mine.) It also suggests the use of violence in a disturbing way. It suggests that the author of the stimulus bill (be it the President or Speaker) should be shot. This is not justifiable in any way.

    As I said before, one of the problems with non-overt racists is that they often do not understand why what they do could be construed as racist.

    Lastly, think about this. If instead of being shot, the chimpanzee was hanged by the neck. Would it be okay then? Certainly wouldn’t be any funnier, but would it be okay?

    Decrying the lack of outrage in the past is no defense of racism today.

  25. Wayne,

    the cops in Stamford (the setup upon which cartoon is based) didn’t hang the deranged monkey in Stamford, they blasted him with 9 millimeters. Hanging the monkey would have made no sense – unless of course, the cartoonist was a racist.

    The depiction of violence in the cartoon was tasteless in the way you described (and also because the chimpanzee horrendously mauled an innocent woman), but being tasteless is a thriving industry in America (c.f. Britney Spears, South Park, American Pie I-III, et al), but accuse anyone of being a racist and it’s all over if the tag sticks.

    Delonas is by no means a brilliant cartoonist. But just because something could be construed as racist doesn’t mean it is. There has to be intent. You apparently infer racist intent, whereas I do not, and believe that the cartoonist used the tragedy of cops shooting a homicidal, insane monkey (monkeys being animals often connoted as being stupid, as in “what monkey came up with that brilliant idea?”) to take a jab at the writers of the stimulus bill, whom many Post readers think are idiots (I think the writers are a bunch of selfish, shortsighted monkeys, personally, and don’t construe that as racist, please!).

    If nothing else comes from this (non) tragedy, hopefully the cartoonist will sharpen his wits, and attack Obama administration policies the Post disagrees with in a more clever and less tasteless fashion. I won’t hold my breath, though.

    And for the record, I don’t subscribe to the Post either.

    Cheers.

  26. Well, thanks for visiting The Zoo, wilsonrofishing. You’re welcome to come back and discuss issues (since you were polite and respectful in your approach, which we like and appreciate.)

    Have a good day.

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