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Politics of Satire: What do you think of New Yorker magazine's current cover?


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I just heard a story on the radio about New Yorker's current cover, a picture of Barack and Michelle Obama. The report described what's being ridiculed by both campaigns (Obama's and McCain's) a cartoon that is completely out of line and offensive. Thinking it couldn't be that bad, I just looked at it online. http://www.newyorker.com/online/covers/slideshow_blittcovers

 

What the...?! If I were a subscriber, I'd cancel this very day. Not because I back Obama; I don't. (I haven't aligned myself with any candidate at this point.) I just can't stomach satire that's so very caustic and mean-spirited.

 

What do you think of it?

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Guest Virginia Dawn

I listened to the story of this twice on NPR today. Personally, I think it is over the top, and I wouldn't have done it. But I think I understand the point that was trying to be made.

 

The attack was supposed to be directed at those who would believe all that urban legend nonsense. I'm not so sure it's working. I do know quite a few people whose thinking actually runs along those lines and I've recieved e-mails to the effect. It's very aggravating to me, and I'm not an Obama person either. I imagine it must be very frustrating to his avid supporters.

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I heard the NPR piece this morning, but didn't see the cover till now. To tell the truth, I expected much worse. The cover actually elicited a near giggle from me, and it definitely seemed clear to *me* what it was saying -- not that Obama is all those things, but the ludicrousness of those who try to portray him that way (rather than making real arguments about policy or philosophy).

 

So no, I haven't gotten The New Yorker in a few years now, but if I were still a subscriber, I wouldn't cancel because of that cover.

 

And I guess I wondered about your comment about it being "meanspirited"... Towards whom? Towards those who choose to believe lies rather than face a political opponent head-on? I can't have much respect for them even when I agree with them politically...

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But I think I understand the point that was trying to be made. The attack was supposed to be directed at those who would believe all that urban legend nonsense. I'm not so sure it's working.

 

Ummm, yeah, I'm quite sure it's not working, based on the response. Aside from the fact that those folks likely don't read the New Yorker, the cartoon is just so over-the-top as to distract from any alleged "point". And there's apparently no mention of it, no explanation, within the magazine itself.

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I'm both a subscriber (and faithful reader) of The New Yorker and a strong supporter of Barack Obama, and I take the cover as satire...and "funny".

 

It does concern me that there are people out there who believe the ridiculous smears this cover is meant to lampoon...but, uh, what can I say about that?

 

Bill

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The attack was supposed to be directed at those who would believe all that urban legend nonsense. I'm not so sure it's working.
Yeah. I think it was incredibly misguided to put it on the cover... maybe inside the magazine where it would be catering to its target audience would have been OK.
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I think it is over the top. However, I think that us what the New Yorker does sometimes. I won't be cancelling my subscription. I think the picture, while awful, is not going to change any minds. Those who cannot see beyond untrue emails and crazy You Tube videos will not see the satire. Those who can will see that it is satire.

 

An aside, I have a friend who wallpapered a wall in their den with New Yorker covers.

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It definitely seemed clear to *me* what it was saying -- not that Obama is all those things, but the ludicrousness of those who try to portray him that way (rather than making real arguments about policy or philosophy)

 

Yeah, I get that that's what is being said, but I don't think the cartoon makes the point successfully. Rather than poking fun at those who believe the urban legends, it just strikes me stupid in general.

 

And I guess I wondered about your comment about it being "meanspirited"... Towards whom? Towards those who choose to believe lies rather than face a political opponent head-on? I can't have much respect for them even when I agree with them politically...

 

No; I actually think it's mean-spirited toward the Obamas.

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Yeah, I get that that's what is being said, but I don't think the cartoon makes the point successfully. Rather than poking fun at those who believe the urban legends, it just strikes me stupid in general.

 

 

No; I actually think it's mean-spirited toward the Obamas.

 

Well, we'll have to disagree about that part. I'll give you "poor taste" or "inadequately considered", but I thought the *point* of the illustration was pretty obvious. And the point was not to be "mean-spirited toward the Obamas", but toward those who believe the most outrageous of slander.

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I'm both a subscriber (and faithful reader) of The New Yorker and a strong supporter of Barack Obama, and I take the cover as satire...and "funny".

/quote]

 

I gave up on the NYer (started to bore me) 25 years ago, and I've never been a strong supporter of anyone (I'm a "lesser of two evils voter"), but it seems to me that if you are in politics you are going to have all sorts of things said and drawn about you and this was so silly, and making fun of the people who think such things, come on....issues, people, issues!

 

(I'm such a romantic dreamer, aren't I?)

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It does concern me that there are people out there who believe the ridiculous smears this cover is meant to lampoon...but, uh, what can I say about that?

 

Preach it! :D

 

Personally, I'd way rather see satire like this in the checkout line than the typical bre@stfest and extra-bold tawdry bedroom instruction that are typically cover-worthy. :rolleyes: But I don't publish. :tongue_smilie:

 

Still, it is a bit much, isn't it? I agree that inside the magazine would have been better.

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The one thing in the image that most commentators seem to be ignoring is the depiction of Michele Obama - she's tricked up like a Black Panther, with an enormous afro! :confused: Where in the world did that come from? Obviously, the 'anti-patriotic' and 'secret Muslim' claims are being lampooned, but has anyone ever claimed she's some kind of neo-Huey Newton??

 

And here I thought I got all the emails...:glare: My uncle is obviously keeping some from me...

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Personally, I'd way rather see satire like this in the checkout line than the typical bre@stfest

 

I am tired. So I apologize. But when I was reading this sentence, I couldn't understand what kind of bre@stfest you have in your checkout lines. I thought a lot of people in your area are breastfeeding in line to keep their babies quiet and you'd rather look at the cover of the New Yorker than watch a bunch of moms whip 'em out in line.

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Guest Virginia Dawn

I just went to snopes.com and typed in Michelle Obama. The only reference there is about her senior undergraduate thesis at Princeton about the black community. Apparently Princeton was asked not to release the content of the thesis till the day after the election. This is a true story that seems to have caused speculation as to what she was hiding. I'm guessing that is what the cartoonist drew from.

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The one thing in the image that most commentators seem to be ignoring is the depiction of Michele Obama - she's tricked up like a Black Panther, with an enormous afro! :confused: Where in the world did that come from? Obviously, the 'anti-patriotic' and 'secret Muslim' claims are being lampooned, but has anyone ever claimed she's some kind of neo-Huey Newton??

 

She wrote a thesis on the effects of a Yale education on black people: are they too educated for the black community and too black for the Yale community? She was young and struggling with her own identity, as we all do at that age. The thesis has made its rounds on the internet and her reputation has been painted as extremely militant.

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I think putting it on the cover shows bad judgment, at the least. For one thing, some people will only see the cover and will have no idea that it is satire, and a "picture is worth a thousand words." A false image that can stay in someone mind is very damaging. To me, that's common sense.

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I just went to snopes.com and typed in Michelle Obama. The only reference there is about her senior undergraduate thesis at Princeton about the black community. Apparently Princeton was asked not to release the content of the thesis till the day after the election. This is a true story that seems to have caused speculation as to what she was hiding. I'm guessing that is what the cartoonist drew from.

 

I have read the thesis online. I think most people who are claiming she's some sort of militant did not actually read the thesis. I saw her as a woman struggling with her sense of self. And she came across as very young and naive. Surely she has matured a lot since writing it and probably mellowed a bit (I know I was a bit more fiery as an undergrad than I am now, ya know?). Really if she's trying to "hide" something, it's that she was a shockingly bad writer as a Yale undergrad.

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I'm both a subscriber (and faithful reader) of The New Yorker and a strong supporter of Barack Obama, and I take the cover as satire...and "funny".

 

It does concern me that there are people out there who believe the ridiculous smears this cover is meant to lampoon...but, uh, what can I say about that?

 

Bill

 

Like SpyCar, I"m a subscriber and a faithful reader of The New Yorker as well. If I had to be marooned on a desert island and could only take one thing, it would be my New Yorker subscription. I love it THAT much!

 

I"m also a strong Obama supporter. I think the cover was ill-advised, and I"m a bit surprised TNY went with it, given their usual summer covers artwork--- beach reading cartoons, sharks walking on the beach, ice cream cones dripping, etc. I understand the satire they were going for, but I'd prefer they'd done it with the written word, rather than visually.

 

My New Yorker should come in the mail tomorrow, and I anticipate next week's issue will include quite a few nasty-grams.

 

Astrid

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I am tired. So I apologize. But when I was reading this sentence, I couldn't understand what kind of bre@stfest you have in your checkout lines. I thought a lot of people in your area are breastfeeding in line to keep their babies quiet and you'd rather look at the cover of the New Yorker than watch a bunch of moms whip 'em out in line.

 

:lol::lol:

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What I find most amusing is the reaction by some of the readers who say, "Well I get it, but many out there won't." I appreciated the editor's belief that many outside the Eastern Seaboard/West Coast do in fact have brains enough to know satire with they see it. I think the cartoon is a bit off, and agree it would have been received better inside vs. the cover. But, in the end, it will make the New Yorker Mag some $ and maybe expose how many of these beliefs about the Obamas are in fact untrue and down right silly.

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I just went to snopes.com and typed in Michelle Obama. The only reference there is about her senior undergraduate thesis at Princeton about the black community. Apparently Princeton was asked not to release the content of the thesis till the day after the election. This is a true story that seems to have caused speculation as to what she was hiding. I'm guessing that is what the cartoonist drew from.

 

Ah. Thanks for finding that!

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I have read the thesis online. I think most people who are claiming she's some sort of militant did not actually read the thesis. I saw her as a woman struggling with her sense of self. And she came across as very young and naive. Surely she has matured a lot since writing it and probably mellowed a bit (I know I was a bit more fiery as an undergrad than I am now, ya know?). Really if she's trying to "hide" something, it's that she was a shockingly bad writer as a Yale undergrad.

 

I've read part of it, and I agree. I didn't get "militant" from it, but I did get naive, and a terrible writer.

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I heard the NPR piece this morning, but didn't see the cover till now. To tell the truth, I expected much worse. The cover actually elicited a near giggle from me, and it definitely seemed clear to *me* what it was saying -- not that Obama is all those things, but the ludicrousness of those who try to portray him that way (rather than making real arguments about policy or philosophy).

 

So no, I haven't gotten The New Yorker in a few years now, but if I were still a subscriber, I wouldn't cancel because of that cover.

 

And I guess I wondered about your comment about it being "meanspirited"... Towards whom? Towards those who choose to believe lies rather than face a political opponent head-on? I can't have much respect for them even when I agree with them politically...

 

I think you have it about 3/4 right. I think it's obvious satire against perceived right-wing attacks against past comments and associations of the Obama's. It's suppose to be a clever and ironic attempt to mock the "wing-nuts" and marginalize these types of fears. What I think is hi-larious is that the New Yorker and the cartoonist are now being attacked from the left. Obviously, the lefties think the cartoon is just a bit too clever and a bit too ironic for the right-wing rubes it's mocking to, you know, GET IT. The lefties are concerned that the New Yorker actually provided ammunition to the kooks. This is predicated on the assumption that the rubes are stupider then the editorial board of the New Yorker. And you know what they say about "assuming" stuff. And the blue state elites wonder why they keep losing elections. :tongue_smilie:

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I've read part of it, and I agree. I didn't get "militant" from it, but I did get naive, and a terrible writer.

 

I've not see it, but how old was she when she wrote it?

 

I know that I would not want anything I did, said or wrote in my 20's held against me now. I was a putz. Come to think of it, there is a lot of stuff from my 30's I would just as soon forget.:lol: (But in my 40's I am fabulous!)

 

I think it is ridiculous when the media reaches so very far back into a person's life to find ammunition. Come on, everyone needs time to mature and come into who they are.

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Obviously, the lefties think the cartoon is just a bit too clever and a bit too ironic for the right-wing rubes it's mocking to, you know, GET IT. The lefties are concerned that the New Yorker actually provided ammunition to the kooks. This is predicated on the assumption that the rubes are stupider then the editorial board of the New Yorker. And you know what they say about "assuming" stuff. And the blue state elites wonder why they keep losing elections.
In a country in which an alarming percentage of the population still believes WMD's were found in Iraq, I would say the problem isn't that one group of people were "stupider" than another, but that the mainstream media is not doing its job. When the phrase "terrorist fist jab" is used on a major network, in all seriousness, to describe an action by the Obamas, there is a problem.
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I love satire, but, I think sometimes it goes a bit too far on both sides of the aisle.

 

I think it can be damaging at times because there are some people who take satire as completely true instead of having an element of truth or an exagerration of someone's point of view. Because there are people who can't really think for themselves and believe everything they read or hear, it can be damaging if it goes too far.

 

As far as the cover on the Obamas, maybe it went a little too far.

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In a county in which an alarming percentage of the population still believes WMD's were found in Iraq, I would say the problem isn't that one group of people were "stupider" than another, but that the mainstream media is not doing its job. When the phrase "terrorist fist jab" is used on a major network, in all seriousness, to describe an action by the Obamas, there is a problem.

 

But, WofMD were found in Iraq. :) http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080706/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_yellowcake_mission

 

I didn't say one group of people was stupider than another. I said one group of people assumes the other is stupider than them.

 

I definately agree with you that the MSM isn't doing its job, though. I think they misrepresent the words and action of many people/politicians frequently.

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I think the New Yorker highly overestimated the ability of people to "get" the cartoon. Most people I have heard discuss it seem to misunderstand who exactly is being lampooned.

 

I think, though, that Obama could not win either way with this one. If he is okay with it, he is ignoring the "outraged masses"; if he lambasts it, he looks like he is lacking a sense of humour. I think the New Yorker did him no favors...

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But, WofMD were found in Iraq. :)
Yellowcake isn't of itself a WMD. Besides:

 

Israeli warplanes bombed a reactor project at the site in 1981. Later, U.N. inspectors documented and safeguarded the yellowcake, which had been stored in aging drums and containers since before the 1991 Gulf War. There was no evidence of any yellowcake dating from after 1991, the official said.

 

I didn't say one group of people was stupider than another. I said one group of people assumes the other is stupider than them.
But you assume that "lefties" assume "stupider" rather than "misinformed." :)
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Personally, I'd way rather see satire like this in the checkout line than the typical bre@stfest and extra-bold tawdry bedroom instruction that are typically cover-worthy. :rolleyes:

 

I agree, but as I now shop exclusively at the natural foods co-op, I'm not confronted with that issue (no pun intended;)).

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Angela said:

 

I think the New Yorker highly overestimated the ability of people to "get" the cartoon. Most people I have heard discuss it seem to misunderstand who exactly is being lampooned.

 

I agree; I don't think it's immediately obvious. It wouldn't have been obvious to me had I not first heard the story on NPR. Someone (JennifersLost) who replied in this thread mentioned that she didn't initially get it.

 

Laurie added:

 

I think putting it on the cover shows bad judgment, at the least. For one thing, some people will only see the cover and will have no idea that it is satire, and a "picture is worth a thousand words." A false image that can stay in someone mind is very damaging. To me, that's common sense.

 

Good point.

 

Interesting to hear the range of reactions; thanks for commenting!

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Yellowcake isn't of itself a WMD. Besides:

 

Israeli warplanes bombed a reactor project at the site in 1981. Later, U.N. inspectors documented and safeguarded the yellowcake, which had been stored in aging drums and containers since before the 1991 Gulf War. There was no evidence of any yellowcake dating from after 1991, the official said.

But you assume that "lefties" assume "stupider" rather than "misinformed." :)

 

But then there's this: http://www.nysun.com/foreign/iraqs-wmd-secreted-in-syria-sada-says/26514/

 

and this: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB80/

 

Yes, isn't "misinformed" just a polite way of trying to marginalize the real opinions and concerns of people they don't agree with?

 

Perhaps we on the right assume that those on the left only lack real information of a lucid nuanced variety to come to more proper conclusions.

 

Sorry, it's patronizing whether you call it "misinformed" or "stupider".

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The 60's radical aspect of the cartoon comes from Michelle's comments about not being proud of her country, their membership for years at the very radical Trinity Church, and Mr. Obama's continuing friendship with people like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Ayers. I immediately understood, thank you very much, that the New Yorker cartoon was poking fun at me for believing that the Obamas were radicals, and /or Muslim sympathizers. And I laughed. And no, I don't believe that Obama is a closet Muslim. I don't like his friends or his church though.

 

Have y'all seen this satirical cartoon of McCain? http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/21129038/full_metal_mccain

 

I like satirical cartoons, and the McCain one made me uneasy, but that is the nature of satire. I never heard any howling about this particular cartoon.

 

Disclaimer: I don't care for either candidate. I'll probably write in Ron Paul. If I had to choose with a gun to my head, I think I'd choose McCain, maybe....I think....

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What I find most amusing is the reaction by some of the readers who say, "Well I get it, but many out there won't." I appreciated the editor's belief that many outside the Eastern Seaboard/West Coast do in fact have brains enough to know satire with they see it. I think the cartoon is a bit off, and agree it would have been received better inside vs. the cover. But, in the end, it will make the New Yorker Mag some $ and maybe expose how many of these beliefs about the Obamas are in fact untrue and down right silly.

 

 

Yep. As a piece of political satire it fails. It's attempting to lampoon the conspiracy theories of the far right wing. The only problem is it illustrates the very real fears and concerns average Americans have about the Obama's. Are they (the Obama's) so far to the left that they fail to understand the daily concerns of politically central Americans?

 

Because the artist and the New Yorker are very far left themselves they fail to recognize the irony in their own cover. They have contempt for these fears/concerns so they try to delegitimize them. In this attempt they reveal their own prejudices. Funny stuff. They (the New Yorker) lack selfawareness.

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:iagree:

The 60's radical aspect of the cartoon comes from Michelle's comments about not being proud of her country' date=' their membership for years at the very radical Trinity Church, and Mr. Obama's continuing friendship with people like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Ayers. I immediately understood, thank you very much, that the New Yorker cartoon was poking fun at me for believing that the Obamas were radicals, and /or Muslim sympathizers. And I laughed. And no, I don't believe that Obama is a closet Muslim. I don't like his friends or his church though.

 

Have y'all seen this satirical cartoon of McCain? http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/21129038/full_metal_mccain

 

I like satirical cartoons, and the McCain one made me uneasy, but that is the nature of satire. I never heard any howling about this particular cartoon.

 

Disclaimer: I don't care for either candidate. I'll probably write in Ron Paul. If I had to choose with a gun to my head, I think I'd choose McCain, maybe....I think....[/quote']

 

 

:iagree: Except the part about voting for Ron Paul. I don't like him, either.

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Yep. As a piece of political satire it fails. It's attempting to lampoon the conspiracy theories of the far right wing. The only problem is it illustrates the very real fears and concerns average Americans have about the Obama's. Are they (the Obama's) so far to the left that they fail to understand the daily concerns of politically central Americans?

 

Because the artist and the New Yorker are very far left themselves they fail to recognize the irony in their own cover. They have contempt for these fears/concerns so they try to delegitimize them. In this attempt they reveal their own prejudices. Funny stuff. They (the New Yorker) lack selfawareness.

 

There also seems to be a pattern that liberals can dole out good satire, but tend not to be graceful if on the receiving end. Even though the cartoon was making fun of those who fear the Obamas, it was those who support them who were most upset. I doubt they would have had the same reaction if it was a lampoon of McCain or any other so-called conservative. I tend to enjoy it when we poke a bit of fun at all parties. Americans, in general, have lost much of their sense of humor, and this can be a dangerous thing.

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Neither of those links offer any proof that WMD's were found in Iraq, or that they were moved. Let's say they were moved. Ok... so all the WMD were secreted away. By whom? Who did the logistics? No satellite technician, spy, or concerned citizen noticed?

 

Yes, isn't "misinformed" just a polite way of trying to marginalize the real opinions and concerns of people they don't agree with?
"Stupider" is better? A person who is misinformed (either as to the truth of the rumours about Obama OR the existence of rumours about Obama) might not "get" the cover. How is that marginalizing or dismissing? The discussion at hand is as to whether the cover was a bad idea... not whether a certain group of people is worth or not worth engaging in dialog.

 

Perhaps we on the right assume that those on the left only lack real information of a lucid nuanced variety to come to more proper conclusions.
That's assuming (there's that word again) that all people on one side believe that all people on the other side think a certain way. THAT is insulting no matter which way you dice it. Nobody said "all people on the right are misinformed." Misinformation is rampant. You were the one who started talking about "lefties" and assumptions.
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Except the part about voting for Ron Paul. I don't like him, either.

 

 

Well, I'm not entirely comfortable with him. I was against the Iraq War, but I think a precipitous pullout would be immoral, so I disagree with him on that issue (It's the only thing I think I've ever agreed with Colin Powell about:D). The reason I could vote for Paul is that I feel like I at least know that he is principled and honest, even if I don't agree with him on everything. I also believe that if he changed his position on something, it would be because he actually changed his mind, not because of political pressure.

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Before reading any other responses, I'd say that it was a perfect way of getting that publication publicity. Look-we are even discussing it on WTM boards. I wonder if the publication has ever even been discussed on this board before? I don't think they did it to make a point, but rather for the shock value.

Holly

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There also seems to be a pattern that liberals can dole out good satire, but tend not to be graceful if on the receiving end. Even though the cartoon was making fun of those who fear the Obamas, it was those who support them who were most upset. I doubt they would have had the same reaction if it was a lampoon of McCain or any other so-called conservative. I tend to enjoy it when we poke a bit of fun at all parties. Americans, in general, have lost much of their sense of humor, and this can be a dangerous thing.

 

I agree with you, particularly regarding our loss of a sense of humor. I think having Obama as a candidate inflates this trend. People, especially white people, are loath to joke about African Americans for fear of the dreaded "racist" tag. In one sense, I hope Obama wins because there are a whole lot of forbidden topics that will be unavoidable.

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I love the cartoon but then I am not an Obama supporter. In fact, I like it so much that I am going to buy a copy, trash the articles and keep the cartoon.

By the way, I don't think that Obama is a secret Muslim but I also don't think he is on the same page with me as to what Christianity is. His judgement is what most concerns me.

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Neither of those links offer any proof that WMD's were found in Iraq, or that they were moved. Let's say they were moved. Ok... so all the WMD were secreted away. By whom? Who did the logistics? No satellite, spy, or concerned citizen noticed.

 

 

There is a plethora of information concerning the where about of WMD for those that choose to be "informed"'

 

 

 

"Stupider" is better? A person who is misinformed (either as to the truth of the rumours about Obama OR the existence of rumours about Obama) might not "get" the cover. How is that marginalizing or dismissing? The discussion at hand is as to whether the cover was a bad idea... not whether a certain group of people is worth or not worth engaging in dialog.

 

 

You miss the point, the cartoonist and the the New Yorker fail to "get" the cover. That's why it's a failure as political satire.

 

 

That's assuming (there's that word again) that all people on one side believe that all people on the other side think a certain way. THAT is insulting no matter which way you dice it. Nobody said "all people on the right are misinformed." Misinformation is rampant. You were the one who started talking about "lefties" and assumptions.

 

 

I was talking about "lefties" as critics of the New Yorker cover. I was laughing at their lack of self awareness.

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Neither of those links offer any proof that WMD's were found in Iraq, or that they were moved. Let's say they were moved. Ok... so all the WMD were secreted away. By whom? Who did the logistics? No satellite, spy, or concerned citizen noticed.

 

 

There is a plethora of information concerning the where abouts of WMD for those that choose to be "informed"'

 

 

 

"Stupider" is better? A person who is misinformed (either as to the truth of the rumours about Obama OR the existence of rumours about Obama) might not "get" the cover. How is that marginalizing or dismissing? The discussion at hand is as to whether the cover was a bad idea... not whether a certain group of people is worth or not worth engaging in dialog.

 

 

You miss the point, the cartoonist and the the New Yorker fail to "get" the cover. That's why it's a failure as political satire.

 

 

That's assuming (there's that word again) that all people on one side believe that all people on the other side think a certain way. THAT is insulting no matter which way you dice it. Nobody said "all people on the right are misinformed." Misinformation is rampant. You were the one who started talking about "lefties" and assumptions.

 

 

I was talking about "lefties" as critics of the New Yorker cover. I was laughing at their lack of self awareness.

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