The principal sources for the New Yorker cartoon of the Obamas on the cover of its 21 July 2008 issue are Christopher Hitchens’ dissection of Michelle Obama’s endorsement of Black Power and Daniel Pipes’ analysis of Barack Hussein Obama as an apostate Muslim. Hitchens twits the would-be First Lady for acknowledging, in her Princeton undergraduate thesis, her guidance by the definition of black “separationism” offered by Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton in their 1967 opus, Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America. In his turn, Pipes reprimands her putative lord and master for dissembling about having been born a Muslim and having had a Muslim upbringing.
Mixed messages are the most effective vehicle for political defamation. According to its editor David Remnick
, the New Yorker
’s cover image is “not a satire about Obama — it’s a satire about the distortions and misconceptions and prejudices about Obama
Obviously I wouldn’t have run a cover just to get attention — I ran the cover because I thought it had something to say. What I think it does is hold up a mirror to the prejudice and dark imaginings about Barack Obama’s — both Obamas’ — past, and their politics. I can’t speak for anyone else’s interpretations, all I can say is that it combines a number of images that have been propagated, not by everyone on the right but by some, about Obama’s supposed “lack of patriotism” or his being “soft on terrorism” or the idiotic notion that somehow Michelle Obama is the second coming of the Weathermen or most violent Black Panthers. That somehow all this is going to come to the Oval Office.
The idea that we would publish a cover saying these things literally, I think, is just not in the vocabulary of what we do and who we are… We’ve run many many satirical political covers. Ask the Bush administration how many.
To be sure, the slide show of past political covers by New Yorker illustrator Barry Blitt accords the pride of place to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney amid luminaries ranging from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Martin Luther King, Jr. But it is preposterous to propose that the limitations of the speaker’s vocabulary should constrain the public implications of his speech. We have no control over the “aboutness” of words blowing in the wind. And the Obamas’ fusion of multicultural roots and separationist ambitions is due to receive more than its share of scrutiny in an election year as marked by suspicions of race and religion as it is inflected by imperatives of culture and politics, when their presumptive adversary already has been exposed as a deranged victim of three slant-eyed screws — a simian, a shrew, and a spook:
How to combat these noisome slurs? Jesse Jackson was not far off the mark in wishing
upon Barack Obama. The wellspring of his difficulties is but a few inches away. It’s all about the Jews. David Remnick is one
. Daniel Pipes is another
. Even Christopher Hitchens, despite his name bearing our Lord on the inside
, despite his hand officiating an inward baptism with a tumbler of whisky
, aligns himself with the Chosen People
. As a bonus, Jann Wenner
, the skalawag responsible for racialist scapegoating of Senator McCain, is a Jewish homosexual
Only one escape is left to Obama. It is spelled out by another woman of color, Zadie Smith
, in an even smugger organ of Hymietown booboisie
the kosher compatriots of Gregor Samsa
: “We’re all insects, all Ungeziefer
, now.” Clearly, his attempt to brand himself as a life-long Christian has backfired. He couldn’t do any worse rebranding himself as the second coming of the Jewish Negro
, namely Sammy Davis, Junior
, Junior. The writing is on the wall: in March 2008, 1% of registered voters believed that Barack Obama was Jewish
. The least Barack would get out of repudiating Michelle’s separationism for the sake of embracing Zadie’s incorporationism to realign himself with subhuman vermin
, is a better class of punani