I’ve been following this controversy of Lawrence O’Donnell calling out a cartoon on Breitbart’s Web site as a “racist obscenity” because the cartoonist dared to draw Obama with big ears. There are two sides to this issue. Breitbart’s blog is atrocious and hardly deserving of the attention. Just looking back a couple of months at the complete smear of Shirley Sherrod tells you all you need to know about the credibility of his Web site.
On the other side, O’Donnell’s comments about the cartoon being racist are completely ignorant of the profession of editorial cartooning. He claimed the cartoon was in bad taste because President Obama was drawn in a “half man, half animal form.”
It reminded me of an incident that made waves a couple of years ago, when Al Sharpton and many liberals were incensed at a cartoon drawn by Sean Delonas of the New York Post. His offense? Drawing Obama as a dead monkey, a play of a news story at that time concerning a 200-pound chimpanzee who was killed by police after attacking his owner’s friend.
In reality, the only people who were offended by the image of the chimp (who really symbolized lawmakers who passed the stimulus bill and not necessarily Obama) were opportunists.
No one cried “racism” when cartoonists drew Bush in various simian forms over his eight years as president.
And when it comes to big ears, cartoonists just draw and exaggerate what’s in front of them. O’Donnell was angry that the Breitbart cartoon featured an Obama with ears “that don’t exist on the homosapien species,” but in reality you see big ears in the political cartoons of many of the nation’s best cartoonists, and not one of them is making any commentary on race. Big ears are funny.