That New Yorker Cover

2008_07_21_p323 I wish I had seen that New Yorker cover—the one with Angela Davis and Osama bin LadenMichelle and Barack Obama—before I had seen all the outraged reactions, and the bemused counter-reactions. I’d like to know what my own response would have been. Most likely I would have thought it mildly amusing and then immediately forgotten about it.

I’m having a bit of trouble figuring out what there is to be outraged about here. I wouldn’t think there would be too many people who will see the cover and not get the joke, even with the vastly extended audience the furor will have gotten it. The outrage I’ve seen seems to be mostly from the professionally outraged.

Ta-Nahisi Coates (who’s not particularly outraged) makes the best anti-cartoon point I’ve seen:

I think the problem is that it’s very hard to satirize the rumors around Michelle and Barack. Satire needs overstatement. But the cover doesn’t actually overstate the beliefs of the scaremongers.

And given the factoid that 13% of Americans think Obama is a Muslim, maybe I’m wrong about people getting the joke.

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