What explanation -- other than everyone at the New Yorker being turned into a Pat Buchanan clone -- can one find for the fact that the best magazine in America has produced the FOX News/Karl Rove poster of the Obama family? If this cover works as "satire" then so did the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Call vicious caricature by it's name. If this was well intended then more fool the editor.
As a former lifelong Republican, as an activist key in the formation of the Religious Right, as a white middle-aged middle-class man who is an avid supporter of Senator Obama, let me explain what went wrong: the editor only knows people like himself. The editor of the magazine should have learned from one of the most famous New Yorker covers of all time: the one that mocked NYC provincialism and portrayed the rest of the country as a footnote to Manhattan.
I happen to have come from a background that was very different from your average New Yorker reader. My parents were fundamentalist missionaries. I know how the "other side" thinks. I WAS the other side (as I explain in my book CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All--Or Almost All--Of It Back).
Editors who live in hermetically sealed rareified echo chambers seem to think that everyone thinks as they do. They don't. The editors of the New Yorker should really get to know the "other" a bit better and hang out less with people like themselves and more with the sorts of unwashed mob they scorn. But even so that might not have helped stop this cover.
More than provincialism was at work here. This cover was a blackface-style racial insult. It is either the work of well intended fools or racists. Note: being cool, educated, ironic, smart, self-aware, progressive and powerful is no excuse and doesn't give anyone a pass.
As a white man cognizant of my country's racial sins, I say that this cover crossed the line. Race is no joke. The cover was a racist slur. LOOK AT IT! Look at the racially exaggerated features. We've had enough parody of black men and women in America to last us about another 1000 years before we need more crap like this. And even if this was intended as satire, the editor should have read the latest brain science and psychology on how repetition of lies stick, even when the lies are being denied (or satirized).
Progressives, Democrats and all those independent voters like me who long to turn the page on the Bush catastrophe -- get a grip! What is a joke to some of you is face value serious to Obama's legion of goofy, misguided and frankly stupid (and sometimes deeply racist) enemies. If Obama loses this election thank the liberals, progressives and Democrats carping about Obama's "mistakes." And thank the smart ass provincial little editors at the New Yorker who squandered a historic opportunity for the sake of a few extra copies sold at the news stand.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of "CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back"