>Are they serious?

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Courtesy Sean Delonas/New York Post

Sure, the New York Post is a tabloid, but any respectable (and I use that term loosely) would not even consider running this type of cartoon. The cartoon, which implies an ape wrote President Barack Obama’s stimulus bill, shows two officers shooting the ape.

The cartoon has civil rights activists buzzing. The Rev. Al Sharpton criticized the cartoon:

The cartoon in today’s New York Post is troubling at best, given the racist attacks throughout history that have made African-Americans synonymous with monkeys.

Delonas rejected Sharpton’s claims, calling it “absolutely friggin‘ ridiculous.”

“Do you really think I’m saying Obama should be shot? I didn’t see that in the cartoon,” Delonas said. “It’s about the economic stimulus bill. If you’re going to make that about anybody, it would be [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, which it’s not.”

Post editor-in-chief Col Allan backed up Delonas‘ rebuttal, saying the cartoon was a “parody of a current news event.”

CNN contributor Roland Martin also weighed in on the cartoon, calling the cartoon “racist” and “careless.”

To the editors who approved the cartoon, as well as the cartoonist, the piece was clearly all fun and laughs. But anyone with half a brain, especially someone knowing the history of African-Americans being called monkeys and gorillas, would have said, “We need to rethink this.” First, mixing the two stories is ridiculous. Yes, the chimpanzee incident and the passage of the stimulus bill have a lot of folks talking, but to put them in the same element just doesn’t make sense. Second, the cartoonist didn’t hang a sign around the neck of the chimp, so he left it up to the reader to determine exactly who the cops were referring to. We all know that the stimulus bill was the first priority of the new president, so when reading the caption, it was easy to infer that the cartoonist was implying the president of the United States. You know, the black guy. And that’s where the problem comes in.

Martin continues:

Ignorant leaders of the New York Post and others may think everything is fair game, and certainly criticizing the president of the United States is just fine. Yet while everyone seems to be caught up in the delusion of a post-racial America, we cannot forget the reality of the racial America, where African-Americans were treated and portrayed as inferior and less than others.

And just as some members of the media brotherhood were taken to task for their obvious sexism during the Democratic primaries because of comments about then-Sen. Hillary Clinton we had to be sensitive to the historical treatment of women.

Oh yes, the Post will have its defenders, accusing African-Americans and others of being hypersensitive. The Post has already shown its hand by trying to make this all about Sharpton, since they know he’s the black bogeyman to white America. But they should understand that my e-mail box and Facebook page are filled with comments from folks of different backgrounds stunned by the callousness of the Post.

As a journalist, I continue to be amazed at the sheer callousness and utter disregard some publications continue to present to the world. From a recent publication in my alma mater’s weekly newspaper regarding rape to this cartoonist’s satire on Obama’s stimulus plan, it seems that the bottom line many so-called news men and women is to give their readers a good jolt to the brain.

No, the so-called news industry isn’t interested in providing quality, hard-hitting stories. No, that’s your parents’ brand of journalism. You know, the kind in which the editor of a publication does his or her best to do what’s right for readers–and for the community. That kind of news practice has fallen to the wayside and has given way to a new brand of journalism: the do-whatever-it-takes-to-make-’em-mad kind of reporting. The reporting that’s filled with expose, sensationalism and doing whatever it takes to boost one’s circulation (which, for some, could mean throwing out the standards altogether and creating your own).

Sure, I can hear the arguments in favor of the cartoon now:

“People should get over it. Don’t let it get to you.”

“It’s not racism. We have a black president, so we have moved passed racism. We are in a post-racial America.”

“It’s just satire.”

Sure, I understand satire just as well as anyone else. However, what I don’t understand is how a publication could be so insensitive to how a primate has always been used by supremacist groups to represent African-Americans.

It seems as if people have thrown common sense and history out of the window with the election of Obama. Its like people are making an effort (whether conscious or subconscious) to whitewash our nation’s brutally racist past and pretend like slavery, Jim Crow and the constant degradation of a race of people didn’t happen–or it wasn’t as bad as historians claim it was.

So, to the supporters of this type of cartoon and of the New York Post’s decision to run it: I understand satire. So, save your energy before you blast me for not understanding political jokes.

But I also understand that it was only two generations ago when people who looked like me were being compared to monkeys and other primates.