In which Sean Delonas & The New York Post wallow in racism and speciesism.

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Update, 2/20/09: The New York Post offered a half-assed apology for the Delonas cartoon today; by “half-assed,” I mean of the “we’re sorry if we hurt your delicate feefees” variety.

Naturally, the “apology” only addresses the racial aspects of the cartoon, while completely overlooking the speciesism inherent in comparing marginalized human group x to marginalized animal species y as a means of insult – and in mocking chimpanzee Travis’s needless and tragic death.

If you’d like, you can comment on the “apology” here, or submit a letter to the editor here.

——————-

null

The above cartoon ran in today’s issue of The New York Post.

In one tidy little panel, cartoonist Sean Delonas – and, in printing and defending such trash, The New York Post – happily wallows in a toxic pool of racism and speciesism.

Here, President Obama is likened to Travis, a captive chimpanzee and former “animal actor,” who escaped from his “house” and attacked his “owner’s” friend on Monday. He was later shot and killed by police.

In bestializing Obama, Delonas engages in both racism and speciesism. Comparing people of color to nonhuman animals – particularly primates, such as chimps and monkeys – is a familiar, age-old racist meme. Denying the humanity of people of color – again, by likening them to nonhuman animals, which are presumably “sub-human,” “lesser beings,” “wild” incapable of intelligent thought or emotion, etc. – was used to justify slavery and segregation, and is still employed as a rationalization for current social inequities such as the disproportionately high rates of poverty, hunger and incarceration among people of color.

These comparisons are also speciesist, inasmuch as they rely upon and reinforce our (collective) stereotypes and prejudices re: nonhuman animals, as well as our utter lack of regard for their sentience and interests. Just as the above cartoon derides Obama by tying him to Travis, it also vilifies Travis (and, by extension, chimpanzees) for being “stupid,” “wild” and “vicious” – “less than.” To add insult to injury, Delonas turns Travis’s tragic death into the butt of a joke. (This didn’t have to happen: Travis should have been living in a sanctuary, with his own kind, not in the residential home of an elderly woman.)

(More below the fold…)