That’s Not Funny!

That's Not Funny!

No doubt you were furious when you received your July 21st copy of the New Yorker with that scandalous drawing of the Obamas on the cover. Oh . . . (sniff) . . . you don’t?  Well . . . surely you’ve heard about it by now.

And that’s the origin of this whole ruckus. People who know the New Yorker know there are illustrations — cartoons  — on the cover and throughout the magazine; those who don’t . . . don’t.

The cartoons are by and for the aware, with-it,  NYC-metro haute bourgeoisie, and assume a common frame of reference. If you had to look up haute bourgeoisie just now, you don’t share it. No wonder you were scandalized by the magazine cover. Would you be so upset if such images appeared in an episode of South Park? Of course not — you expect them there.

Grassroots campaigners for Obama who work among the unaware and not-with-it  must constantly correct misconceptions about the Obamas, and are probably more exasperated than outraged by the magazine cover. People who actually read the magazine (or display it after looking at the cartoons) don’t need a truth squad; they know about the false canards can appreciate a joke about the baseless rumors.  (Note: all canards are false; the redundant phrase is a common American usage. At ease, New Yorker readers).

The July 21st New Yorker cover was illustrated by Barry Blitt. The magazine’s web site has mounted a small exhibit of his political work, The Politics of Satire.

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

The name “The New Yorker” and the logo of Eustace Harun Abdul al-Tilley are registered tradmarks of Condé Nast Publications and are used under the “Satire” clause of the “Fair Use” or “Free Will” Doctrine. Something like that.

4 Responses to “That’s Not Funny!”

  1. Lawrence E. Rafferty Says:

    I agree that the New Yorker is known for this type of satire, but when we have gone through months of the purposeful lies and fabrications by the (Rovian led)McCain campaign, I can understand the frustration of he Obama campaign when this cover hit the stands. When 12 percent of the electorate still believes that Obama is a Muslim,(according to a recent poll) it is obvious that adding any additional non-thinking fuel to the fire can be damaging. The people who think that Obama is Muslim are the same people who see a cartoon like this and get further reinforced in their stupid thoughts(if they have any original ones) which Fox News and others will continue spreading. All they will see and hear is that Obama is a Muslim and his wife is Angela Davis, part 2. The true readers of the New Yorker is not what concerns me. I know it is/was an attempt at humor, I just wish it would wait until after Obama beats McCain, because if Obama loses, this country will continue on the steep slope to oblivion that Bush has started us on.

  2. Mike Licht Says:

    Lawrence E. Rafferty says “I know it is/was an attempt at humor, I just wish it would wait until after Obama beats McCain, because if Obama loses, this country will continue on the steep slope to oblivion that Bush has started us on.”

    First Amendment aside, the cover would no longer be timely after the election, and would never run. I must share your feeling to some extent, though. To my shame, I have not yet posted a “What if he was a Muslim?” item on my weblog. Several of my Muslim neighbors would be excellent Chief Executives, and young Congressman Keith Ellison (D, MN-5) is coming along nicely.

    The New Yorker cover is not a drawing of the Obamas; it is a depiction of the ludicrous worldview of the rumormongers, and that is indeed preposterous and funny.

    I am amazed that the cover has not successfully drawn attention to the excellent article inside the magazine, Making It: How Chicago shaped Obama, by Ryan Lizza. It is a classic sidewalk-level view of local politics in America.

    My fiancée recently visited her Mom in South Florida, where there have been reports of people handing out “Obama is Muslim” fliers in synagogue parking lots (most old folks there, like 30 percent of Americans, do not use the Internet). The rumor there was spread by Clinton supporters, not Republicans, since the area is populated by elderly Jewish New York City refugees and the “pro-Israel” stance is a classic of NYC politics, even in races for dogcatcher (Thanks, Hillary). New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been stumping for Obama in Florida to set things straight. My Sweetie printed out my humorous post on this matter and passed it around, and it seemed to help dispel the rumor without rancor.

    Judging a candidate simply by his or her name is all too common in US politics. It sure worked for the guy in the White House, and for decades Texans elected a state treasurer simply because his name was “Jesse James.” Country singer Loretta Lynn (whom I otherwise admire) said of Dukakis that she wouldn’t vote for a man whose name she couldn’t pronounce. For a “Nation of Immigrants,” the US is extraordinarily xenophobic.

    Hey, I think I have this morning’s post here . . . .

  3. Lawrence E. Rafferty Says:

    That is my point with this cartoon. That it deflects from the real story that the magazine wants people to read. As you correctly stated the real New Yorker readers get the cartoon and would probably read the actual story inside. I am concerned about the media running with just the cartoon and that has happened.
    Congrats on your impending nuptials!

  4. Mike Licht Says:

    Lawrence E. Rafferty Says: Congrats on your impending nuptials!

    They have been impending for some years now. I wanted to buy Anita a ring, and in some situations it is awkward to introduce someone as “my sweetie pie.”

    As to the New Yorker, it is appropriate for them to write for their actual readership each week, and not be too concerned with people who might see the cover of a copy somewhere.

    Thanks again for your comments — they inspired today’s post.

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