New York Post’s monkey cartoon sparks racism row

New York Governor David A Paterson,Senator Kirsten E Gillibrand,the Rev Al Sharpton and others expressed concern on Wednesday over a cartoon in The New York Post...

Written by New York Times | New York | Published:February 20, 2009 1:10 am

New York Governor David A Paterson,Senator Kirsten E Gillibrand,the Rev Al Sharpton and others expressed concern on Wednesday over a cartoon in The New York Post that showed a police officer telling his colleague who just shot a chimpanzee: “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”

Critics said the cartoon,drawn by Sean Delonas,implicitly compared President Obama with the primate and evoked a history of racist imagery of Blacks. The chimpanzee was an apparent reference to the 200-pound pet chimpanzee that was shot dead by a police officer in Stamford on Monday,after it mauled a friend of his owner.

Speaking at a conference of the New York Academy of Medicine on Wednesday morning,Paterson said: “It would be very important for The New York Post to explain what the cartoon was intended to portray… Obviously those types of associations have been made… But I think if it’s enough that people are raising this issue,I hope they would clarify.”

Senator Gillibrand,Democrat of New York,said in a statement: “I found the Post cartoon offensive and purposefully hurtful.”

A newsroom employee at The Post said its newsroom received many calls of complaints on Wednesday morning after the publication of the cartoon. “Every line was lit up for several hours,” the employee said. Many Post staff members were dismayed by the cartoon,the employee added.

The cartoon was on Page 12 of Wednesday’s edition. On Page 11 was a photograph of President Obama signing the stimulus bill into law in Denver.

Sharpton,who has been an unflattering subject in cartoons drawn by Delonas in The Post,said in a statement on his website: “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.”

In a statement,Col Allan,editor-in-chief of The Post,denied that the cartoon was “racially charged.” Allan said: “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. Again,Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist.”

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