Last Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. labeled the United States “essentially a nation of cowards” when it comes to race relations.
I don’t think his intention of a “nuanced, principled and spirited” debate meant protesters, led by an impartial judge in Rev. Al Sharpton, calling for the firing of Sean Delonas, the New York Post’s cartoonist, for what they deem a racially insensitive cartoon.
True, the cartoon wasn’t well conceived. Delonas and his editors should have considered the possible interpretation of using a monkey to represent the author of the stimulus package.
At the same time, it’s common practice for cartoonists to play two current news items against one another to come up with a funny take or a pointed commentary, basically causing the reader to view an item from a different perspective. In this case, Delonas attempted to combine the stimulus package and the mauling of a Connecticut woman by a pet chimpanzee.
Now, the NAACP has called for both Delonas and his editor, Col Allen, to be fired, saying that the newspaper published a cartoon that was “an invitation to assassination.”
One thing is for certain. Cartoonists are going to be forced to tip-toe through a racially explosive minefield to try and walk the narrow line of criticizing President Obama while not unintentionally drawing upon possible racial metaphors.
So for at least the next four years, I guess its cartoonists that will be the race of cowards.