Much ado about a monkey

Sean Delonas should be embarrassed.

The New York Post editorial cartoonist has become a target of people like Rev. Al Sharpton and CNN’s Roland Martin for the cartoon you see below. Delonas and the Post have been declared at best racist and at worst guilty of inciting violence against the President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Yes, Delonas should be embarrassed, but not because he is guilty of any of the above. He and his employers should hang their heads because this cartoon simply isn’t funny. It’s barely social commentary. And, worst of all, it’s just lazy.


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If you have been under a dead monkey and missed the uproar, folks like Sharpton and Martin have declared Delonas a racist because, as far as Sharpton et al are concerned, the chimp represents President Obama. Delonas and the Post say the chimp represents Congress. Martin says Delonas should’ve hung a sign around the monkey’s neck that read “Congress.” This back and forth has generated more than 1,000 articles on Google News and received hours upon hours of television coverage.

I am offended. By all of them. Sharpton and Martin are acting as opportunists. Delonas is just lazy.

Delonas’ boss says the cartoon was based on the recent news about a chimp going bananas and tragically ripping off a woman’s face. High comedy, to be sure.

As reasonable people, let’s all agree on a few things.

  1. Unless the chimpanzee was Reagan’s Bonzo or B.J.’s bear, the attack should not have been national news and the lead story on Sure, it’s water cooler talk and good for site traffic, but, come on. It’s a barely famous animal attacking a random person. It’s not national news. It’s a sad local story and sick national voyeurism. It’s a failure on the part of any national news outlet that ran the story in a prominent place.
  2. Delonas is lazy and capitalizing on a tragic story. Of course we know Congress is made up of a bunch of monkeys who don’t even read things before they vote on them. Depicting Congress as a bunch of monkeys is like depicting a puma as a jaguar.
  3. Sharpton, Martin, et al are using a non-story about a bad cartoon to increase their public profile. It’s sad, ridiculous, and not worthy of people who want to defend the President. If President Obama isn’t offended, then everybody else should just shut up.
  4. Delonas and the Post are imbeciles if they don’t recognize the potential racist interpretation of the cartoon. Racism is still a major problem in the United States and it’s a matter we should all hope to improve.

I have made no secret that I am a supporter of President Barack Obama. He inspires me and I have great hopes for his administration. I think he has already made mistakes and he will make more. I believe that he is strong enough to stay true to his convictions and proceed in a way he thinks best for the country. If he proves me wrong, I will be disappointed. All of that said, if he is not strong enough to deflect the worthless work of a dime store editorial cartoonist, we’re in a lot more trouble than my friends on the right say.

And this (even this blog post) is this biggest problem. The more time we spend talking about maniacal chimps and two-bit Post cartoonists, the less time we have to spend talking about how to fix the economy, shore up our national defense post-Iraq, and restore our position as a country that does good.

I am working to maintain my optimism for 2009. So, for now I remain optimistic that people like Delonas, his boss, Al Sharpton, and Roland Martin fade into the obscure little place they are trying to create. There’s work to do and those guys aren’t getting the job done.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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9 Responses

  1. StB says:

    And that is what they call a walk off home run. Touch them all and head into the clubhouse. Well said Otis.

  2. Pauly says:

    But isn’t that the point? To create distractions like the chimp and Octomon in order to keep the real issues from being discussed like eroding civil liberties, the escalation of wars abroad, and corporate welfare?

  3. Special K says:

    “I believe that he is strong enough to stay true to his convictions and proceed in a way he thinks best for the country.”

    That describes Bush pretty well. Are you sure you want another one?

  4. KenP says:

    Well, it certainly is neither funny nor satire. That differs from their editorial page which can be hilarious.

    As to the Sharpton types — red, blue, and black — distortion or embellishment is a tool. Groups that are polarized tend toward that.

    I didn’t support Obama and had an impossible task trying to find someone I could support. Still looking I fear.

    For eight year under Bush, we’ve printed money to finance the war. While doing so we did nothing to control other spending. That put a great deal of new money in circulation. If you go to the St. Louis fed site you can see the numbers. This explosion in funds creates bubbles. There was one under Y2K by Greenspan that funded the Internet bubble but that was chump change compared with what has happened for 8 year.

    Now ‘your guy’s’ wisdom is that the housing market fire and then meltdown — likely caused by to much available money — can be solved by printing a whole lot more money. Do you really think that’ll work?

    What is needed is prosecution of the runaway, powerful entities. And there were a ton of common types that were fellow travelers. Housing would have never spiraled out of control without appraisers and loan officers looking the other way. Wink-Wink and a Nudge-Nudge. To throw a ton of new money that direction is incendiary.

    The last great developed nation to print money in such a fashion was the Weimar Republic.

  5. Dr. Chako says:

    I am from Wappingers Falls, NY.

    Who cares? Search for it on Google. Type in “Wappingers Falls Sharpton.” Go ahead. I’ll wait. Here – let me help you:

    The first hit says it all – “Tawana Brawley rape allegations.” My sisters and I went to school with her. Why is this important? Because this is when our nation became aware of everyone’s favorite opportunist – The Reverend Al. I will only say this about him – he is a sore on the backside of America and he has done more to promote racism than any individual since the days of the Klan.

    Now, as for the cartoon… perhaps I’m cured of the national white man’s guilt, but I honestly don’t see racism anywhere in that comic. If it’s there, it’s perceived (which actually makes it real). It makes me wonder, though. How many people had to be told it was racist, then believed it just because the Reverend said it was so?


  6. Tom says:

    I agree with your comments. I also like Scott Adams’ quote “you can’t underestimate the public’s ability to find offense where none is written.” Seen it happen all too often.

    I am an Obama supporter, and regardless of the cartoonists intent my gut reaction when I saw the cartoon was revulsion at overtones of racism and hints of presidential assassination. However, I also immediately remembered laughing at photos comparing Bush to a chimp. It’s a complex issue, but the philosophy of “remindsmeof” is hard to dismiss.

  7. Charlie Bernstein says:

    I’d never heard the story of a monkey attacking a woman and immediately read the cartoon as a sick racist call to bigots to shoot the president.

    My mistake.