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If you really think that in this cartoon artist Ted Rall drew Barack Obama as a gorilla, then I think that we may indeed have a racism problem here -- but that racism is yours.

Rall may conceivably be criticized for exaggerating the African appearance some of Obama's features (notably his nose) for some reason, but drawing Obama with exaggerated African features is not drawing him as a gorilla.

If you think otherwise, then you're saying that Africans look like gorillas -- which is more racist than anything that Rall is accused of doing.  Here, I made you a nice infographic below the fold to help you tell the difference between the appearances of a gorilla and an African.

The diary asking the question "Does our president look like a gorilla?" was #8 on the Rec List (15 hours after its posting) when I began writing this.  Worse yet, someone had added the tag "obama as a gorilla" -- we no longer seem to have the public "tag history" function that once would have allowed me to look up who it was -- to Rall's original diary.  As that was a "singleton" tag, I've added it to this diary as well so that anyone interested will see the rebuttal.

It seems pretty clear to me that what bothered people wasn't so much Rall's stylized drawing style (if that's it, just steer clear of his diaries) or the notion that he actually portrayed Obama as a gorilla, but that people didn't like the message of the cartoon.

That message drew a parallel between Obama's saying "you can keep your plan" and then explaining (rightly, in my view) that he was defining "plan" to mean "one that wasn't crappy" -- i.e., one that was "up to code" -- and Obama's promise that all of our troops will be back from Afghanistan by 2014, which is now being revised to allow Afghanistan to keep some troops there.  (As Rall puts it: "If you like your current occupation troops, you can keep them.")

You may not like what Rall says there, but it is unquestionably "in bounds."  Obama's credibility problem is nowhere near as bad as G. W. Bush's, but he does have one -- and the apparent change on Afghanistan (even if it can be argued away) at a minimum has the potential of adding to that.  So while it may (or may not) be an unfair criticism, it's the sort of thing that Obama supporters must be prepared to defend -- or, perhaps, even to show some independence and condemn (although maintaining one's perspective.)

Instead, Rall's tip jar has 146 HRs to 41 recs (mine among the latter) as I write.  That strikes me, among other things, as being cowardly as well as ethically wrong.  I'd say that it was against site policy, but apparently it's now considered acceptable.  Some may be hide-rating using the "he drew Obama as a gorilla" argument as a fig leaf.  If so, then as explained here those HRs are baseless and should be taken down.

If the HRs are instead due to disagreement with his argument, the HRs should be taken down for a different reason: because this site should not be humorless and thin-skinned and because HR'ing for substantive disagreement within broad bounds has long been -- or at least had long been -- wisely considered to be against site policy.

For those HR'ing for disagreement, I suggest that you look back at the comments that were made at the time that Obama introduced his draw-down in troops.  If memory serves, some cynics at the time said that Obama would find a way around it and that troops would continue to be present in Afghanistan past his stated deadline.

Those comments drew strong criticism from Obama's defenders -- and, if I recall correctly, some of them were HR'd (including into oblivion) -- on the grounds that no, Obama was telling the truth and wouldn't change his mind.

So, you can't have it both ways: either making the prediction that Obama was legitimate at the time or noting that his commitment seems to have changed it legitimate now.  If you think otherwise, then you need to re-read Orwell's 1984 -- while you can still understand it.

8:30 AM PT: Meanwhile, back at the ranch, this happened:

A little more than an hour after this diary was posted Ted Rall received the following message in a yellow warning box:

Your depiction of Barack Obama as ape-like is intolerable.  Being critical of Obama, even ferociously so, is not the problem.  Through British and American history, blacks have been subjected to racist depictions of themselves as monkeys and apes.  No excuse is acceptable for replicating that history now no matter what your intent.  If it happens again, your posting privileges will be suspended.
He has, accordingly, quit the site -- and people over there are celebrating in terms that suggest strongly to me that it isn't really much about the size of the character's nose and "snout."

At the time that I wrote this diary, I hadn't know that this warning had been sent.  This reaction presumably has to do with the diary that I criticize above; the odds are that it was sent to him before this diary was posted.  That makes the previous diary all the more damaging.  I wonder who wrote that in my opinion wrongheaded message; they're welcome to contact me to discuss.

3:21 PM PT: Conceptual Guerilla notes that Tuesday's cartoon, also on the Afghanistan theme, provides a good point of comparison to this post. You can see it through his comment here.  Look for the bit jaws and weak chins.

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