Monday, July 14, 2008
New Yorker caricature shows Obama, wife as al-Qaeda operatives
Magazine publishes spoof of right-wing attempts to defame US presidential hopeful as ridicule of belief he is closet Muslim, but instead of receiving praise, editors slammed by Democratic campaign officials, who call it 'tasteless, offensive'
Published: 07.14.08, 19:46 / Israel News
Barack Obama's campaign decried Monday a satirical cartoon on the cover of The New Yorker magazine showing the Democratic presidential hopeful wearing Islamic dress while his wife holds a Kalashnikov. An American flag smolders in the Oval Office's fireplace, below a picture of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden hanging on the office wall.
The influential weekly defended its cover, titled "The Politics of Fear," as a critique of unfounded allegations during the campaign that have attempted to paint Obama, who is Christian, as a closet radical Muslim.
"The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama's right-wing critics have tried to create," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement, "but most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree."
The campaign of Obama's Republican rival, John McCain, took his side. "We completely agree with the Obama campaign that it is tasteless and offensive," spokesman Tucker Bounds said.
Obama, who aims to become the first African-American US president, wears a robe and turban while his wife Michelle is in military fatigues with a Kalashnikov strapped to her back.
The couple also give each other a fist bump – a common greeting they have given each other in public and which a Fox News television presenter once called a "terrorist fist jab."
"Our cover 'The Politics of Fear' combines a number of fantastical images about the Obamas and shows them for the obvious distortions they are," said New Yorker editor David Remnick.
"The burning flag, the nationalist-radical and Islamic outfits, the fist-bump, the portrait on the wall – all of them echo one attack or another," he said. "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."
The cover overshadowed a more serious issue discussed by Obama on Monday – the retreat of American soldiers from Iraq. The presidential hopeful published an article in The New York Times in which he adopts the stance of Iraqi President Nuri al-Maliki, who called on the US government to set a timetable for the removal of its military forces.
Obama called al-Maliki's appeal an "enormous opportunity", and presented his plan for the retreat from Iraq.
"On my first day in office, I would give the military a new mission: ending this war," he wrote, describing this move as necessary in order to redeploy troops in Afghanistan and Pakistan. "Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been," he claims.