Councilmember Bernard C. Parks called for a boycott Monday of the latest issue of The New Yorker magazine, which depicts presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in a turban with his gun-slinging, combat-boot wearing wife, Michelle. The overall impression is that Obama is a Muslim and his wife is an Afro-wearing terrorist. An American flag is shown burning in the fireplace.
“The publication’s decision to illustrate Senator Barack Obama in a turban and Mrs. Michelle Obama armed with an assault rifle and wearing military fatigues is absolutely appalling,” Councilmember Parks said. “And by placing a picture of Osama bin Laden and a burning flag in the background of the illustration, The New Yorker took a major step from appalling to inexcusably disgusting. The illustration takes me back to a time in this country that none of us should be proud of. Today, I call for people across the nation to boycott this issue of The New Yorker.”
Parks introduced a resolution at the city council meeting Tuesday requesting his colleagues to support the boycott.
Although editors at The New Yorker called the controversial cover an attempt at “satire,” Parks replied, “The New Yorker’s attempt to label this ill-conceived drawing as ‘satire’ is almost as embarrassing and inappropriate as the illustration itself.”
The Obama campaign quickly responded and renounced the cover, pointing out that it depicted Obama and his wife in a negative light. “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,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton. “But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive, and we agree.”
Rev. Eric Lee, executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, also agreed that the cover was tasteless and “inappropriate.” “There are many white Americans that believe this lie that Obama is a Muslim,” Lee observed. “To characterize him as such only goes to support their misunderstanding and play into their religious and ethnic fears.”
Pausing, he added, “Periodicals like The New Yorker often do satirical caricatures of high profile politicians. When you deal with our country in regard to race relations, this kind of satire manipulates the undertones of racism in our country.”
Since hitting the news stands Monday, the controversial cover has already been widely circulated on television and the Internet.