Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Obama and the New Yorker Revisited

Hear an interview with Richard Prince of the Maynard Institute & The National Conference of Editorial Writers, courtesy of KDHX radio in St. Louis- from the program "Reality Now". Prince talks about why the New Yorker's "satire" didn't work.

Some of my thoughts:

I understand the "satire" angle. I immediately "got it". However, in this case, the satire was misused and misplaced. The use of the image was irresponsible, and it should not have been done in the current political climate.

If someones baby died during delivery, I wouldn't send them a greeting card saying "congratulations on the new baby". Even though there is nothing wrong at all with the card itself, if viewed in a vacuum...just on its own. The card may be a wonderful gift. But when placed in the wrong environment, in the wrong context...when given at the wrong time, it can be a negative.

So what political environment am I referring to that is so bad.... that constitutes wrong timing? Well, we are in a Country where tens of thousands of potential voters still believe that Obama is a Muslim and terrorist sympathizer. NPR did a segment a few weeks ago that featured a Moderate Latina Political group that was going around spreading misinformation about Obama's religion...and this was a so-called informed political group. There are many within the general public who are just as poorly informed.

Obama is in a situation where he has a chance to make headway among moderates, independents, and White Southern voters in certain States. Included in these populations are folks who have been sitting on the fence regarding who they will vote for in November, and they may not be all that informed about Obama. Many voters have been introduced to Obama for the first time over the last 5 or 6 weeks. They may not know the backstory about the whisper campaigns, the misinformation campaigns, etc. Obama can do without anything that might blow his chances with these voters.

The New Yorker Magazine cover, while it might be satire, and "we" may understand it, might not send the same message to others. Others may not "get it". There are a lot of folks out there who are just plain dense and out of the loop on this stuff, especially in parts of the Country where Obama has a chance to flip States and districts from Red to Blue. Some may see the cover and not read the story inside that explains everything. Remember, Americans by in large have been turned into zombies by this soundbite culture. If folks don't get enough information from the cover (such as an explanation of what they are seeing) then they will walk away with the image and little more. An image that will play into fears that they already have from the previous rumors. This cover feeds right into the misinformation efforts that racist neo-Conservatives have put into the mainstream.

Did you read the Washington Post report about the experiences of Obama staffers in West Virginia, and other parts of the South and Midwest? The sentiments are real. The damage from the misinformation campaign is very clear. There is no excuse for anything that plays into that fear, satire or not, especially from a so-called friendly progressive magazine.

The New Yorker should have known that such an image could be misinterpreted and that this was not the right climate to publish it. But they chose to do so anyway, to create controversy and to sell more magazines, at Obama's expense. Print media has been suffering of late, due to the increase in the number of Americans who choose to get their information from other platforms. So they have a motive for engaging in this kind of behavior.

Yes, I know what the satire is. You know what the satire is. Many progressives know what the satire is...and they may even read the article. But there is a large segment of the American populace that won't get it, and won't bother to read the article. The use of the image was irresponsible and a little racists at best. Yes, there are Americans who just won't get it... remember, many of these people are the same folks who voted for Bush twice....or voted for Nader in 2000 and swung the, they insured the (s)election. These are the same people who saw the Twin Towers burning on 9/11 and wondered why anyone would want to harm America...and believed that the terrorists attacked us because they had a vendetta against "our American Freedom", and that they hated our domestic political system (complete nonsense...but they bought it hook, line, and sinker...and now the U.S. is in a war that it will be stuck in for at least another decade). So yes, there are tons of Americans who are just plain stupid...and they are armed with voter registration cards (deadlier weapons in the hands of stupid people, than any handgun in the possession of a responsible citizen).

Would the New Yorker have dared to do this for any other progressive candidate? Would they have engaged in this kind of a stunt for a white Democrat? Would they have painted any other progressive candidates patriotism, religion, allegiance, race, or character in this same way, satire on not? I don't think so. For some reason, Whites (many, but not all) of various backgrounds- progressive, Moderate and Conservative- feel comfortable & safe doing this to Blacks. Even against the best and the brightest who don't deserve anything close to this kind of treatment. Why the feeling of safety and comfort?

The New Yorker had to know that this was not a good idea.... that it was misplaced and just plain irresponsible under the circumstances.

Related Posts

The Field Negro talks about why a spoof (Satire) of the McCain's doesn't work because the imagery is actually true.


In a somewhat related note.... am I the only one who noticed a negative media slant regarding Barack Obama's foreign trip? There seemed to be a double standard regarding how the pundits viewed Obama as compared to other politicians and Presidential candidates.

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