THE BLOG
03/26/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Signifying Monkey: Why Cartoons Matter

When I first read the New York Post and saw the infamous cartoon stimulus monkey cartoon, it didn't immediately set off my internal racist radar. After talking to several people about it I realized that it was at best extremely insensitive and at worst blatantly racist.

The humor and parody excuse can only work if if you take in to consideration both the intentions of the author and the perception of the audience. If you research New York Post's cartoonist, Sean Delonas previous work, it is clear that he is a right wing bigot who routinely dehumanizes people from different viewpoints and cultures. The way this guy disrespects and dehumanizes Arabic people is way more blatant and inexcusable than the infamous stimulus monkey. The New York Post has a lot more apologizing to do for his previous work which went largely unnoticed.

Top 10 Racist New York Post Cartoons

Also if you take in to account audience perception, the same right wing bigots who read the post are pretty much the same sort of people who compared him to a monkey through out the campaign. The audience from the Post did not likely know that Obama did not write the stimulus plan and viewed Obama as the face of the stimulus package.

When humor satirizes racism its is acceptable; when it promotes racism it is not. The Nazis were very effective in using racist cartoons to dehumanize and demonize Jewish people.

"Go where you wanted me to go, you evil spirit." says the Nazi

Ignorant, lured by gold,They stand disgraced in Judah's fold. Souls poisoned, blood infected,
Disaster broods in their wombs.

Many other cartoonists used their work to promote and defend slavery, while dehumanizing African Americans.

During the Jim Crow era, cartoonists regularly dehumanized African Americans, which made it easier for mainstream America to discriminate against them. One of the most common ways to do this was to draw them with monkey-like features.

Even popular American staples like Mickey Mouse and Archie were used to dehumanize and ridicule African Americans.

I believe crying racism is like crying wolf. If you do it unnecessarily, no one will listen. I did not immediately attack Delonas after reading the cartoon but after doing my research on him, the editorial slant of the newspaper he writes for, the audience of the New York Post and the history of racist cartoons if have come to the conclusion that this was a subtle attempt to racially attack our President.

I have already called for people to boycott Limbaugh's parent company and sponsors. Now, Delanos, AKA Limbaugh-with-a-pen, should be treated the same way. Even if people can defend the stimulus monkey cartoon, there is no way they can defend his treatment of Arabic people. His depictions of Arabic people very closely parallel the depictions that the Nazis gave the Jews in their own racist comics, in the dehumanization and the demonization.