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« Stuff | Main | Chomsky misremembers, as usual »

July 17, 2008

Comments

Alcuin

Oliver makes a comparatively sophisticated point, which is well taken. However, I am reminded of a conversation in Asimov's Foundation:

Weinis: Give me none of that Hardin, save it for the mob
Hardin: My dear Weinis, whoever do you think I am saving it for?
(http://www.scribd.com/doc/296137/Asimov-Isaac-Foundation-2-Foundation - page 90)

In short, the sophisticated metropolitan elite will see the irony, disgruntled workers will not - it triggers a deep fear and suspicion that many would not dare to voice. I'd say Obama has good cause for concern.

Ross

As I read elsewhere, if Obama is trying to neutralise silly rumours that he is a Muslim then over reacting to a cartoon might not be the best way to go.

Kellie Strøm

The best way to disarm the middle-name obsessives who might not get it would have been to laugh loudly, to take ownership of it. But perhaps it's hard to switch from pious preacher mode.

Here's another cartoonist who tried a similar approach to the rumour-mongering back in April.

Matthew

But (and correct me if I'm wrong - the website is all I am going on) there was no article about right-wing loons pretending Obama was a subversive Muslim, so the cartoon (and being on the front page) seems gratuitous. Also Peter Brooke's 'Americans don't get irony' -- oh dear oh dear.

arnoldo

Peter Brookes' anti-Americanism has always been of the knee-jerk SWP variety. The "irony" comment is regularly heard from those quarters, and is laughable when one considers the source of that brilliantly ironic comedy series - "Frasier".

Sally White

I think Obama is a great candidate and support him. Please visit WHYOBAMA08.org and encourage others to do the same.

Jeremy Das

Re "it would take an obtuse reader to miss the laboured irony here".

Would you have said the same if the cartoon had appeared on the cover of a Ku Klux Klan newsletter? Isn't your interpretation dependent on your expectations of the New Yorker?

Neil Panton

You're so right about the issue of offence. In this week's TES magazine there's an article about arranging a classroom discussion of free speech. Apparently the students should leave knowing '...you can say what you want as long as it doesn't offend others and that you respect their point of view.' As you've argued before, under these circumstances how can you say anything?

Michael

"Would you have said the same if the cartoon had appeared on the cover of a Ku Klux Klan newsletter? Isn't your interpretation dependent on your expectations of the New Yorker? "

And indeed prior knowledge of the New Yorker's editorial position.

This reminded me of Charlie Brooker's notorious pre-2004-election call for George W Bush to be assassinated - originally made in the Guardian's Saturday Guide, where his regular readers would expect him to hurl vitriol at all and sundry from the platform of a very funny but essentially trivial TV review column. Even without prior knowledge of his particular schtick, it should be pretty clear to anyone picking up that particular Guide and seeing the surrounding context just how seriously one should take his mock ranting,

But the online version completely eliminated that context, and there was no essential difference to the untrained eye between Brooker's column and a Guardian leader - at least in terms of accessibility and layout. Indeed, a number of excitable people in the US genuinely did think it was a legitimate opinion column and reflected the paper's editorial line.

Similarly, the fact that the New Yorker cartoon is on the front cover means it's much more likely to be spotted by people who won't appreciate - or care about - the intended irony.

Miv Tucker

Obama needs to be more thick-skinned, and less thick-headed.

He is said to be modelling himself on JFK, though he'd do better to emulate an earlier - and greater - Democratic President, Harry Truman, who wisely observed, "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen."

Marbury

Michael has it exactly right. David Remnick, Hitchens and Mr Kamm all seem to be assuming that this image will remain tethered to its context as a 'New Yorker' cover (and therefore ironic, pro-Obama etc). But in the online age I'm not sure that's likely. However, Gawker really has the last word on this:
http://tiny.cc/B0erT

Hasan Prishtina

"the fact that the New Yorker cartoon is on the front cover means it's much more likely to be spotted by people who won't appreciate - or care about - the intended irony."

Unlikely. If you buy the New Yorker at a shop half of the cover is shielded by a flap telling you about the stories inside.

LeaNder

"Obama's campaign has no ground for complaint; on the contrary, the cartoon unfairly caricatures the opposition to him."

This is the gas. Should I discover laboured irony here? Or should I assume, our dear friend is not so sure about Barack Obama's loyalty or fears he could be pulled into the abyss of the "Arab Mind"? If he is not really a secret Muslim, that is.

Peter Stoyko

I think Obama's reaction should be seen through the lens of image management. I'm quite sure that he gets the joke. But his campaign people believe that some of the imagery used on the cover is part of a bad "optic" that is highly influential. I have to say that I agree with them. I disagree with their reaction, however, and agree with Hitchens.

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