After a controversial New York Post cartoon hit stands earlier this week, which made unfavorable comparisons betwen a fatally shot chimpanzee and the creators of the stimulus package, John Legend has written an open letter disclosing his feelings on the matter
In the letter, the singer speaks to the editor who approved the image.
“I guess you thought it would be funny to suggest that whomever was responsible for writing the Economic Recovery legislation must have the intelligence and judgment of a deranged, violent chimpanzee, and should be shot to protect the larger community,” Legend wrote. “Did it occur to you that this suggestion would imply a connection between President Barack Obama and the deranged chimpanzee? Did it occur to you that our President has been receiving death threats since early in his candidacy? Did it occur to you that blacks have historically been compared to various apes as a way of racist insult and mockery? Did you intend to invoke these painful themes when you printed the cartoon?” (Press Release)
He also gives the publication the benefit of the doubt when it came to its intent, yet, still questions the paper’s lack of ethics.
“If that’s not what you intended, then it was stupid and willfully ignorant of you not to connect these easily connectable dots,” Legend added. “I’ve read your lame statement in response to the outrage you provoked. Shame on you for dodging the real issue and then using the letter as an opportunity to attack Rev. Sharpton. This is not about Rev. Sharpton. It’s about the cartoon being blatantly racist and offensive…Please feel free to criticize and honestly evaluate our new President, but do so without the incendiary images and rhetoric.” (John The Legend Once Again)
In addition to the Grammy-winning performer’s letter, demonstrators publicly attacked the New York Post on Thursday (February 19).
Demonstrators led by civil rights activist Al Sharpton chanted “End racism now!” outside the parent company’s skyscraper in midtown Manhattan and called for the jailing of Rupert Murdoch, whose international media conglomerate News Corp owns the Post. The newspaper has defended the cartoon as a parody of Washington politics, but Sharpton said it exploited a potent image in the history of racism towards blacks. (Reuters)
Following the rally, the Post issued an official apology.
“[The cartoon] has been taken as something else – as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism,” a statement reads. “This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize. However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past – and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback. To them, no apology is due.” (New York Post)
The controversial cartoon hit news stands on Tuesday (February 17) sparking varied reactions.
Reactions are as varied as they are strong to Tuesday’s New York Post cartoon depicting the police shooting of a chimpanzee. Two police officers, one with a smoking gun, are near the chimp’s bullet-pierced body. “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill,” one officer says. The Post‘s Sean Delonas used a typical editorial cartoon trope of linking two current news stories: the shooting of a chimp after it mauled a Connecticut woman and President Obama’s signing of the stimulus bill. (CNN)