McCain denonuces New Yorker’s Obama cartoon

July 15th, 2008 - 11:14 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Barack Obama

New York, July 15 (IANS) Republican presidential candidate John McCain has denounced a satirical cartoon on the cover of the New Yorker magazine depicting Barack Obama in Islamic dress beside a burning US flag in the Oval Office though the weekly defended the “satire” and “spirit” behind the caricature. As the cartoon sparked a political and journalistic debate, McCain’ campaign quickly condemned it. McCain himself commented at a press conference: “I think it’s totally inappropriate, and frankly I understand if Senator Obama and his supporters would find it offensive.”

The controversial cartoon shows Democrat presidential candidate Obama and his wife Michelle standing in the White House’s Oval Office with an American flag burning in the fireplace under a portrait of Al Qaeda supremo Osama bin Laden.

Obama wears an Islamic robe and turban while Michelle is shown in military fatigues with a Kalashnikov on her back. The couple give each other a fist bump, a common greeting they have been seen giving each other in public during the campaign, but which a television presenter once called a “terrorist fist jab”.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton has already said in a statement, “Most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree.”

The new Yorker has defended its cover, titled “The Politics of Fear”, as a satire on unfounded whispering campaign by right-wingers that Obama, a Christian, is a closet radical Muslim.

New Yorker editor David Remnick said it “combines a number of fantastical images about the Obamas”.

“Satire is part of what we do, and it is meant to bring things out into the open, to hold up a mirror to prejudice, the hateful, and the absurd. And that’s the spirit of this cover.”

Remnick underlined the two “very serious” articles about Obama in the July 21 issue - a commentary and a 15,000-word reportage on the candidate’s political education and rise in Chicago.

To combat questions about Obama’s patriotism and religion and debunk false rumours floating online, his campaign has created a website, www.fightthesmears.com.

The New York Times in a story about the controversy added that satirists and cartoonists are finding it hard it poke fun at Obama, mainly because anything that verges on his race falls flat, and risks provoking outrage as illustrated by the New Yorker cover.

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