The New Yorker hit it big this week with The Controversial Cover, which I'm sure you know (unless you are living under some sort of rock or something) features Senator and Mrs. Obama, the former dressed in Islamic garb and the latter decked out in her finest terrorist garb (them's some hot pants there, Michelle!), giving the It's Hip To Be A Democrat Fist Bump.
I can understand how both campaigns are rising up, aghast. Because tsk, tsk, it's not nice to depict someone as a terrorist. And time out for you, it's not pleasant to have a cartoon of prejudice slapping us in the face. It's sad to be reminded that for many people in this country, The New Yorker illustration is not satire, it's reality...which makes it satire. Get it?
And that is why David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, ran the cover. Because that illustration speaks about our country. He said, What I think it does is hold up a mirror to the prejudice and dark imaginings about Barack Obama’s — both Obamas’ — past, and their politics.
Kristin from Well Read Hostess wrote about this whole kerfuffle the other day, and I think you should read it, because frankly, people, the woman is very clever. She is the Very Clever and Well Read Hostess, and there is an education to be had on her not-a-blog.
People find the cover horrifying. They think it's shocking. And they should. Because it is. But it's shocking in the same way one is startled with the realization that one's hair is entirely grey first thing in the morning. The same way one is horrified to notice how very horrible one's ass looks in a favorite pair of jeans.
No matter how true the truth, it flat-out sucks to hear bad news. And the bad news here is that no matter how civic-minded we applaud ourselves for being, no matter how tolerant we claim to be, we aren't. We are afraid of what we don't know and understand, and unfortunately many of us are okay with that. Apathy is easier. There's a bumper sticker for you.
The issue swirling around The Cover is not Barack Obama's politics, wife, or the life he has lived. It's about narrowminded judgement, and resting comfortably on our prejudiced haunches. Shame on us.