The easy way: John Legend + the NY Post cartoon



The controversy over this NY Post cartoon has just led to more time and energy being wasted, yet again, by our reactionary activist community. The surprise in all of this is that in the Obama-era I think we'll see more entertainers joining that reactionary activist community.

Now, don't expect John Legend to get radical anytime soon -- that's too threatening to his career -- but firing off a "strongly worded" open letter about a stupid cartoon that has virtually no real effect on our lives? Yeah, expect a lot more of that in the Obama-era. Afterall, it's cool to appear political right now. Even if the politics being played are of the superficial sort. Celebrities know that, just as it was a great career move after all the damage was done and when it was "safe", to talk shit about George Bush, it just as lucrative of a career move right know to defend Barack Obama -- even against imagined threats.

Of course the NY Post's apology is wack. What do you expect?

But so too, of course, John Legend's letter to the post says nothing about Rupert Murdoch or his News Corporation that owns Fox News and Fox Television and 20th Century Fox and Fox Sports and Sky News and The Weekly Standard and The Daily Telegraph and The Herald Sun and The Sun and The London Times and Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal and Myspace and (finally) The New York Post.

You gonna boycott every Fox TV station? Every News Corp. media outlet John? Shutdown that Myspace page? Nah, that's too "radical". I understand. Sacrifice is a lost concept to the modern afro-Capitalist generation. Laugh-out-muthafu**in-loud. In the Obama-era expect to see more and more dogs with dentures, mofos barking loud as hell without biting a damn thing.

Of course I reject the NY Post (never bought a copy in my life) but I ALSO reject John Legend's letter of safe, non-threatening protest. I understand the topic may serve (yet again) as a simple "catalyst" for moderates to (finally) "do something" but to me, both the cartoon and the feigned outrage in response, are useless.


(John Legend) Open Letter to NY Post: Dear Editor, I'm trying to understand what possible motivation you may have had for publishing that vile cartoon depicting the shooting of the chimpanzee that went crazy.

I guess you thought it would be funny to suggest that whomever was responsible for writing the Economic Recovery legislation must have the intelligence and judgment of a deranged, violent chimpanzee, and should be shot to protect the larger community. Really? Did it occur to you that this suggestion would imply a connection between President Barack Obama and the deranged chimpanzee? Did it occur to you that our President has been receiving death threats since early in his candidacy? Did it occur to you that blacks have historically been compared to various apes as a way of racist insult and mockery? Did you intend to invoke these painful themes when you printed the cartoon?

If that's not what you intended, then it was stupid and willfully ignorant of you not to connect these easily connectable dots. If it is what you intended, then you obviously wanted to be grossly provocative, racist and offensive to the sensibilities of most reasonable Americans. Either way, you should not have printed this cartoon, and the fact that you did is truly reprehensible. I can't imagine what possible justification you have for this. I've read your lame statement in response to the outrage you provoked. Shame on you for dodging the real issue and then using the letter as an opportunity to attack Rev. Sharpton. This is not about Rev. Sharpton. It's about the cartoon being blatantly racist and offensive.

I believe in freedom of speech, and you have every right to print what you want. But freedom of speech still comes with responsibilities and consequences. You are responsible for printing this cartoon, and I hope you experience some real consequences for it. I'm personally boycotting your paper and won't do any interviews with any of your reporters, and I encourage all of my colleagues in the entertainment business to do so as well. I implore your advertisers to seriously reconsider their business relationships with you as well.

You should print an apology in your paper acknowledging that this cartoon was ignorant, offensive and racist and should not have been printed.

I'm well aware of our country's history of racism and violence, but I truly believe we are better than this filth. As we attempt to rise above our difficult past and look toward a better future, we don't need the New York Post to resurrect the images of Jim Crow to deride the new administration and put black folks in our place. Please feel free to criticize and honestly evaluate our new President, but do so without the incendiary images and rhetoric. Sincerely,
~John Legend

(NY Post) Apology for racist cartoon: Wednesday's Page Six cartoon - caricaturing Monday's police shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut - has created considerable controversy. It shows two police officers standing over the chimp's body: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," one officer says. It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill. Period. But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism. This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize. However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback. To them, no apology is due. Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.