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Reader Comments on "Satire or Sicko?"


Here’s a sample of opinions I’ve received on the controversy surrounding the cover of The New Yorker magazine satirizing insidious stereotypes of the Obamas:

Tamsyn Mihalus writes:

“The New Yorker cover reminds me of the controversy surrounding the airing of “All in the Family.” At the time, I thought it was clearly exposing how ugly racism is in the form of Archie Bunker. Later, it was brought to my attention that many people identified with Archie as a hero, supporting his lazy, “pinko” son-in-law who that, in spite of all his education, was incapable of supporting his wife. It confirmed their beliefs. Wow! It was a defining moment for me. Not everyone thinks like me. Shocking, right? Still, I would defend Norman Lear’s right as well as the New Yorker’s right to expose this ugliness even if it is subject to misinterpretation.”

Kimberly Dean writes:

“I agree that satire has its place and can be an effective tool in helping us to look at an otherwise serious social or political issue in a comical light. Satire allows us to poke fun at ourselves and to gain an alternative perspective about serious issues. However, the New Yorker’s photos of Michelle Obama as an angry black woman/militant and Barack as a Muslim with possible Al Quaeda ties (Bin Ladin’s photo on on the wall), went beyond tasteful satire. In fact I would go a step farther and say that the photo cover is inflammatory and fuels the negative rumors that many uninformed viewers hold about Barack Obama’s religious affliation as well as as unjustly paints Michelle Obama in a stereotypical manner, the image of the angry black woman!  Of course we don’t want to advocate censorship, but I think that a highly prestigious magazine such as the New Yorker should be mindful of the power it has as a magazine that speaks to millions of readers.”

Sam Aronson wrote a somewhat longer opinion, excerpts below:

As a subscriber of the magazine in question, The New Yorker, I am not at all surprised by this cartoon …the New Yorker does, indeed, hold itself to the highest standards and should be held to the highest, reasonable, standards in journalism.  We have come a long way from the time when Norman Rockwell, a favorite artist of mine, was painting covers for the Saturday Evening Post.  The New Yorker, know for its (frequently indecipherable) cartoons, is expected, by its readership, to skewer politicians and (the public) when necessary.  This was not a case of the proverbial “gloves coming off,” but rather another in a long series of topical cartoons designed to remind America of what Senator Obama has to endure before he can start to talk about real issues.

“…did the reading public “get the joke?”.  Of course it did.  The New Yorker’s readership base is comprised of the literati and the intelligentsia of the world.  They are politically aware and hungry for cartoons such as this.  The only people who didn’t “get the joke” are those who do not subscribe to The New Yorker.  I realize that this may sound elitist, inflammatory or snobbish (adjectives much better suited to the New Yorker then racist) but the New Yorker, which has been around since EB White wanted something to do in 1925, knows it audience… 

“…To return to my only dissent from your blog, the language you used to describe the art, namely: shocking and inflammatory.  Instead of those words (especially inflammatory) I describe the art as provocative and scandalous… the nation needed to be scandalized, at least a little, because Senator Obama continues to be put in the SCANDALOUS position of having to repeatedly say: “I’m not a Muslim…not that there is anything wrong with that” and “I, in fact, do love America…despite the fact that I don’t always wear a lapel pin of the flag.”  America needs to be scandalized, and this didn’t even come close.  We accepted a war built on lies, illegal wire tapping, the “outing” of a CIA Agent by the Vice President (inevitably he did this in-between speeches where he praised America’s troops and other public servants for risking their lives…but hey, at least he was wearing a lapel pin) and we still accept men and women being held in off-shore jails, out of the reach of the constitution for almost a decade, without the benefit of charge or trial.  I wish that the New Yorker had a cover that caused this much public debate every month!

“What does leave a bad taste in my mouth over this entire mess is how Senator Obama has to continually defend his patriotism.  The United States does not have any more vocal an advocate for the “American Dream” then this man…Barry Blitt did exactly as you describe: The satire is exposing the sickness.”

Other opinions?  Write to me at, or click on the “comments/questions” link on the left side of this page….

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Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
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