Racism? A Picture Is Woth a Thouxand Words

The New Yorker magazine is the quintessential voice of liberal NYC.
Thus, its ugly caricature of the Obamas is deeply depressing as a manifestation of the embedded racist attitudes that infect even those who announce themselves to be liberated from inherited racist attitudes. They are not.

Let us get one thing straight. Caricatures of political figures have stock fare for several centuries. What is so unusual here and a first is the ugly attack on Michelle Obama, the wife of a political candidate. I can think of no precedent for this ugliness directed at candidate wives — and there were many which would have made handy targets along the way.

This is not so much a moral matter as a cautionary warning that we have many a mile and perhaps several generations to go before we rid our nation of such ugliness. Racism is not a deliberate choice. It is a reality spawned by the attitudes that children pick up from their culture — “Eneny meany miny mo, catch a nigger by the toe.” This was the way we chose sides in my childhood school yard in outer suburban Connecticut where no African Americans lived — except a servant family working for a wealthy gentleman farmer.

My brilliant Nigerian roommate at Yale (who went on to a distinguished medical career) was sensitive to this phenomenon from the body language of those with whom we interacted — ‘They shake my hand and then rush off to wash theirs.” He was right. “Negroes’ were viewed as ‘dirty’ in those days. And such a bias rarely dissipates through conscious determination.

Perhaps the New Yorker has taught us an important lesson about the racism pervading this election. I am embarrassed and ashamed that the Obamas have been so targeted. A picture is worth a thousand words?

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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