As you probably know by now, The New Yorker recently published their latest issue to a great scandal. The cover art, which I've included with this article, is a depiction of Michelle and Barack Obama fist-pumping in the Oval Office. He is dressed as Osama bin Laden and she is the image of militant black feminism with an Afro and combat fatigues, an AK-47 strapped to her back. In the fireplace an American flag is burning, above which a portrait of Osama bin Laden overlooks the scene.
The Obama campaign and the McCain campaign both have denounced the drawing, calling it all manner of inappropriate, offensive and obscene. The internet is abuzz with righteous fury and comments beginning with "Now, I'm all in favor of free speech, but..." and nobody seems to be able to stop crying about how the image hurt their feelings, shocked them, left them reeling into their cheerios. From the emotional responses I've been reading I'm sure entire freeways were piled up with cars that slammed into dividers as their drivers, paralyzed with shock, lost the will to live when they heard about the cover on NPR on their way to work.
To me, this is a sign of great satire. I'm laughing my ass off, to be honest - kudos to the New Yorker for the bravest and most effective magazine cover I've ever seen. I couldn't imagine a more potent satirical argument against the plethora of radio hosts, TV personalities, bloggers and general assholes who have spent the past year painting exactly that picture with their words. You know it's true - Obama and his wife have been painted as dangerous foreign radicals with questionable loyalties and a complete disregard for the values of the United States. His name has been closely associated with that of Osama bin Laden and the furor raised over the couples' fist-pump was quite frankly embarrassing, but there it is.
In one single move the New Yorker has taken the teeth out of every pundit who has attacked Obama's ethnic loyalties; no longer can sexist, racist radio hosts spew vitriol against Michelle Obama, painting her as some sort of deranged radical - don't you get it? This magazine cover has provided the unofficial illustration for every such claim.
From now on, every time anyone tries to pull such bullshit arguments out against Obama all they'll be doing is evoking this image - which has been roundly condemned from left, right and center as the most bigoted, mean-spirited racist commentary of the entire election cycle. The New Yorker has, in one fell swoop, done more for the image of Barack Obama than a legion of counter-spinners could hope to accomplish. By giving a face to the vitriol that spews out of the right-wing media every single day they've defeated it.
People are really pissed off, sure - but I think that when the dust settles they're going to realize that they're not as mad at The New Yorker as they are at the media environment that makes that cover absolutely justified. I guess I can't imagine who could be shocked and offended at that graphic when that much and worse is said about Obama every day by respected national pundits.
I dunno, am I off my rocker? What do you think? If you found the cover offensive, can you please leave a comment below explaining why?