- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2009

There hasn’t been such hubbub since a cheeky New Yorker cover last year depicted presidential hopeful Barack Obama as a robed Muslim in gleeful fist-bump with a gun-toting Michelle Obama in the Oval Office.

The cartoon wars have erupted again.

This time, the war centers around the New York Post, which ran an editorial cartoon Wednesday casting President Obama as the infamous pet chimpanzee shot dead by police earlier this week after the ape went on a rampage. The cartoon shows a bloodied chimp, two cops, a smoking gun and the caption, “Now they’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”

New York Gov. David A. Paterson and others are not amused.

“It’s important for the Post to explain what the cartoon intended to portray. Obviously, some associations have been made; they do feed a negative, stereotypical image,” Mr. Paterson said.

“This cartoon is inflammatory, inappropriate and irresponsible,” said Lorraine Cole, chief executive officer of the YWCA. “It recalls deeply offensive negative stereotypes of African-Americans characterized as monkeys and is seemingly directed at our first black president.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton also condemned the cartoon and called for a reprimand of artist Sean Delonas, who typically lampoons gay issues.

“It is not a reach to wonder. Are they inferring that a monkey wrote the last bill?” asked Mr. Sharpton.

The newspaper is standing by their cartoon man, however.

“The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit, the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington’s efforts to revive the economy,” said Post Editor-in-Chief Col Allan. “Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist.”

A 2002 cartoon showing President Bush flying a plane into the Twin Towers made trouble for the Concord Monitor. The New Yorker cover, meanwhile, became a partisan flash point - 70 percent of Democrats were offended by it, compared with 41 percent of Republicans, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted at the time.

“I’m going to give Sean Delonas the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think he was trying to make a racist statement. It was just a really, really badly conceived cartoon forcing two national stories into one cartoon which unfortunately matched up a monkey with a black president’s stimulus bill,” said Alan Gardner, editor of the Daily Cartoonist, an industry blog.

“It shouldn’t have made it past the sketch phase, and certainly not past the editor’s desk,” he said.

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