I do think the coverage has been insane for the new New Yorker cover but I do have some points I’d like to make.
FIRST: The New Yorker cover does not represent Islam as a religion, but as a flag-burning, terrorism-associated characteristic, therefore fitting the definition of Islamophobia, which according to Wikipedia is:
“…the ‘dread or hatred of Islam and therefore, to the fear and dislike of all Muslims,’ stating that it also refers to the practice of discriminating against Muslims by excluding them from the economic, social, and public life of the nation. It includes the perception that Islam has no values in common with other cultures, is inferior to the West and is a violent political ideology rather than a religion.”
SECOND: It is reminiscent of the anti-immigrant cartoons from the 19th C. that portrayed (sometimes sandal-wearing) foreigners importing their ideologies & “sicknesses” to the heart of America (I can’t think of anything more “heart of America” than the White House).
Here is a cartoon from the 1860s that literally depicts America swallowed by “foreigners”…in the New Yorker cover George Washington who usually sits above the fireplace (who hung there during Reagan’s White House & also for Clinton‘s) is not exactly swallowed but replaced by Osama bin Laden:
THIRD: 10% of the American public actually thinks Obama is a Muslim (though Newsweek recently said it was 13%, while 26% couldn’t identify his religion!!!!) and the New Yorker is aiding that misinformation. Also, the Right is peddling an image that even if Obama is not a Muslim, he is perceived as one overseas…in other words…”guilt” by association. Check out this poll about the cartoon by the very right-wing World News Daily as reported by Pam’s House Blend.
FOURTH: Images have lives beyond their explanations and with big subscription numbers comes bigger responsibility…the New Yorker should recognize that.
FIFTH: I don’t think the New Yorker did this consciously. In contrast, I believe Annie Liebowitz shot her racist Vogue cover with the intention to portray black men as animals and she has yet to apologize!
Sure, I think the New Yorker cover was in poor taste but I think we should simply learn from it and move on…and yes, the image is McCain’s wet dream.
Though part of me wonders if the image may help Obama with some Muslim-American voters who have been saying that Obama has been ignoring them.
I have to admit that I’m loving the satire that the cartoon is inspiring:
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