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Is This Obama Cartoon Grotesque and Racist?

John Darkow / Columbia Daily Tribune

As questions grew about the scope and focus of the Obama Administration’s offensive in Libya, Columbia Daily Tribune cartoonist John Darkow drew the cartoon above, suggesting that the “limited target” that Obama spoke off actually included the removal of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

But Daytona Beach News-Journal reader Martin Press couldn’t get past what he refered to as the “wildly exaggerated features” of President Obama.

“The caricature… is so disrespectful to the president of the United States that it could have been drawn by one of the nutty “birthers” who infest the media,” wrote Press in an letter to the editor.

We’ve had numerous discussions here about the unique difficulties that come into play when your exaggerating features and caricaturing the nation’s first black president. Is Press right about this Darkow cartoon being “grotesque and racist,” or is he just being too sensitive to race and the art of a political cartoonist to exaggerate the features of his subject, in this case President Obama?

By Daryl Cagle

Daryl Cagle is the founder and owner of Cagle Cartoons, Inc. He is one of the most widely published editorial cartoonists and is also the editor of The Cagle Post.

95 replies on “Is This Obama Cartoon Grotesque and Racist?”

No…the cartoon is not racist. Every cartoonist draws their politicians with exaggerated features, that’s the way it’s always been.

If it showed him eating fried chicken or watermelon, you have a case for racism. Just because his ears are drawn too big, doesn’t mke it racist. I didnt hear Cagle and others going ape s*** when Bush 43’s ears were drawn big.

For god’s sake, no. Not EVERYTHING involving making the President look like a black guy is racist- cartooning is the medium that minimizes people to their base features and makes them easily recognizable to the common person. And to be frank, most cartoonists are terrible at doing that for Obama. But I see nothing wrong with this one. You get characatured, you look goofy- no exceptions.

If you see him dressed up as a zulu warrior or as a spot-on mirror to Al Jolson, then we’ll talk. But I mean, this doesn’t even cast the President in a negative light. Way to miss the mark, Martin.

For god’s sake, no. Not EVERYTHING involving making the President look like a black guy is racist- cartooning is the medium that minimizes people to their base features and makes them easily recognizable to the common person. And to be frank, most cartoonists are terrible at doing that for Obama. But I see nothing wrong with this one. You get characatured, you look goofy- no exceptions.

If you see him dressed up as a zulu warrior or as a spot-on mirror to Al Jolson, then we’ll talk. But I mean, this doesn’t even cast the President in a negative light. Way to miss the mark, Martin.

All cartoonists use caricature to some degree or another. Does this cartoonist consistently exaggerate features in this manner? Then you have your answer.

Oh Please! The media placed years of cartoon drawings of the past President!
Where were these yahoos when it was the fashion to attack a white Republican?
Obama’s features lend to caricature so shut up and live with it. Unless there is an apology for the past renditions of Bush there is nothing else to say jerks.

I am as sensitive to racism as any reasonable Black American. I saw nothing racist about the cartoon.

First off, he is not America’s first black president. He is America’s first *HALF* black president: he is also 50% white….
…which means a white person is also being denigrated.

But I didn’t hear anything from the Media about white men being denigrated, either now or when Bush was in office.

Hmmmmmmmmmmm…wonder why that is?

*cough*
*cough*

Sick: the Media is going to start a race war in this country sooner or later. I sincerely pray that God judges them for doing it, after it happens.

I don’t think Obama’s big ears are racist. Obama just has really funny ears. They are like a national treasure.

Nope, not racist. Those who say that it is racist…. are thinking like racists. Enough already! This cartoon reminds me of political cartoons of LBJ.

Maybe he just doesn’t understand caricature. (Or that editorial cartoons, by definition, are meant to be exaggerated) Knee Jerk reactions are never pretty, and its seems his statement is.

Can you IMAGINE???? A political cartoonist exaggerating someone’s features?? Get outta here!!! Go on… no really… “Wildly exaggerated features” … I mean what’s next ??? They’re gonna start drawing Palin dunking a KKK hood in a cup like it was a tea bag…? YIKES… Grow some skin people!!!

Big ears?

To paraphase; “There are none so deaf as those who will not hear?” (the will of the people)

If GOD truly has a sense of humor he would turn us ALL the exact same shade of Green! Then we would spend our time comparing toes, noses and ears!

If a cartoonist is drawing a generic black person and emphasizes stereotypical features — broad nose, thick lips, etc. — that would be racist. But Darkow’s exaggerated features make the figure look like
Obama specifically. That’s not racist, but it must be racial to look like the presidents.

Why do I get the feeling that if the cartoonist drew Bush with a rebel flag, driving a pickup truck and sipping on a beer, it would be no problem.

For the reader who complained, a quote from one of my favorite movies….”Lighten up, Francis!”

Just look back at how cartoonists depicted Johnson and Nixon. Totally exagerated their already pronounced features. I’m an Obama supporter and don’t find it racist. It’s just non-flattering.

A political cartoonist is supposed to exaggerate the features of a public figure in a cartoon. It’s a cartoon! Exaggeration is both expected and welcomed in a political cartoon. It’s a cartoon! And that artistic latitude and freedom applies, even if it’s a caricature the nation’s first black president. In fact, to not exaggerate the features of President Obama would be very racist. John Darkow is treating President Obama as an equal; Martin Press is not. It’s as simple as that.

The only exaggeration I see are his ears and to some degree the pointy chin, neither of which have anything to do with his race…not even the bushy eyebrows. On the other hand, Mo-mar’s nose is greatly enhanced, but is that because of Arab racism?

Goodness gracious! (Stated with breathless indignation.) Those who elected our President should have warned him about the mean-spirited attacks emanating from American cartoonists. Next they should have submitted legislation that allowed caricaturization of only white Presidents. Finally, they should issue a fatwah against any hapless cartoonist who dared displease them. Ain’t it a grand new world we live in?

Political cartoons always contain exaggerated caricatures. I’m afraid somebody is being unnecessarily oversensitive.

Seems legitimate to me — after all the exaggeration isn’t particularly “negroid.” Basically, the Obama ears will always be fair game.

Yeah, I thought only Conservatives were guilty of targeting. I do recall though that barry did tell some of us to go to the back of the bus.

Yes, the ears are a bit grotesque, but they are not racist, since they aren’t stereotypical of White Midwesterners. They sure don’t come from his father’s side of the family.

Yes, the ears are a bit grotesque, but they are not racist, since they aren’t stereotypical of White Midwesterners. They sure don’t come from his father’s side of the family.

“grotesque and racist,” No. Someone’s always got to complain. Hey it could be worse. No death threats yet. That’s a good sign.

Though I don’t see it as “grotesque and racist”, I do agree somewhat that this caricature seems a little over-exaggerated for its context in this cartoon. Before reading Daryl’s comments I found myself distracted from the main point of the cartoon by the Obama caricature.

That said, if this same caricature was used in a cartoon whose point was to portrait Obama as hapless, dazed, etc., that is a different story.

So while the cartoon is _not_ offensive to me, it does cause some confusion about the cartoonist’s message. Who is he trying to lampoon here – Obama or Gadhafi? This particular Obama caricature makes that a little less clear to me. It seems other people also perceive something *off-kilter* in this cartoon or this discussion would not exist. But “racist” is an exaggeration imo.

I thought Clinton was the first black president.

If that cartoon is racist, what about the cartoonist’s name, Dark-ow? Is Mr. Press offended by that, too? And how about the size of Gadhafi’s nose? And on, and on…

Obviously Mr.Press hasn’t been viewing this cartoon blog. If he can’t take a . . . joke’em.

Except for the tint of the skin, the wideness of nose, it could be the once future and maybe never king Charles. Caricaturization has been around longer than newspapers-think graffiti-Rome.

If Qadafee would be holding a sheep or goat it would be “racist” except Semitic isn’t a race. Or if he didn’t regularly wear native clothing that could be considered “antisemitic”. But he does wear native clothing. So that part really isn’t “racist” or “antisemitic”.

As far as the Obama part is concerned; Pretty much anything anyone wants to do with a president is fair game. Would rather have a president depicted with big ears and lips than one depicted as a clueless monkey as in the recent past.

It’s in bad taste. I don’t like disrespecting our President whether he or she’s a Democrat or Republican.

Not racist. He is a black man (half-black, actually) and hence he has certain racially-linked features. Caricature involves exaggerating a person’s features. If a person wants to be president, he has to be able to be caricatured because it comes with the territory. IOW, if you can’t stand the heat, get outta the kitchen!

Give me a break! Barry Obamer is grotesque and racist, not the cartoon. The thin-skinned Mad Bomber’s deck contains 52 race cards. Today the totally phony hypocrite announces his re-election bid and says trials will be held at Gitmo….This clueless dufus sucks the front teat of political expediency….

Give me a break! Barry Obamer is grotesque and racist, not the cartoon. The thin-skinned Mad Bomber’s deck contains 52 race cards. Today the totally phony hypocrite announces his re-election bid and says trials will be held at Gitmo….This clueless dufus sucks the front teat of political expediency….

It’s a funny cartoon , it would have never occurred to me that there’ something racist about it. Obama would have laughed at it. Actaully , he has been favorited. His chin is
quite angular in real life. This is just another case of American hysteria.

It’s only ‘politically correct’ white folks who act up to this kind of hystria.
Obama has never reacted to any kind of real racist attacks himself.

The accusation that this cartoon is racist is a racist statement and I highly resent it.

Political cartoonists always exaggerate the features of whomever they are lampooning. Remember George W. Bush’s ears? Jimmy Carter’s toothly smile? Richard Nixon’s nose? And on and on. All grist for the political cartoonists.

The cry of racism is the modern McCarthyism. Instead of looking under every bed for communists, those who perpetually carry giant chips on their shoulders are looking under every bed for a racist.

This gets old. Very old. Give it a rest and get a life.

We see what is before us, and what-is, as-is, is the truth. And then, there is what we make of it, and that is entirely imaginary. And that fact is also truth. We do that.

It doesn’t look racist to me, it looks like a caricature. Calling the drawing racist is, to me, like picking apart a speech and critiquing it for grammatical correctness, instead of focusing on the message and its truth or falseness. The real question is, is there truth in this depiction? And if so, did the cartoonist depict it well? After that, we can get to the issues of whether or not we like how it was done.

And I do realize, yes, that this is my opinion, for what it’s worth, my own thoughts, views, imaginings, ideas, all existing only in my own mind. Like yours.

Personally, I like it.

Do we (America) have the right to do what we are doing in Libya? That’s another issue. Are we doing it? Looks like we are.

I hear Libya’s oil is particularly sweet. So is freedom.

Americans have the dubious honor of having the responsibility to help anyone wanting help to be free, and the responsibility to not interfere in other people’s business, or to mis-use our armed forces in adventures that do not include the defense of America. It’s a fine line. Another tightrope act.

Is the cartoon racist? IMHO, I do not think so. I like it. Wish I could draw as well as Daryl.

shouldnt be any surprise to anyone that we are a nation of racists, I thought that was a given by now,pretty funny that a cartoon is an ”obcenity” but killing 300,000 Iraqi’s based on lies and murder of afghanistan civilians is not.
madness.

“mean-spirited”. That is part and parcel of the new “ultra-liberal speak”. Sorry, I should have used “ultra-progressive speak”. As for: “Ain’t it a grand new world we live in?”, ….no further comment required.

One’s face is “fair game” when put in the public arena. Why is this characterization any more “racist” or “mean spirited” than what has been drawn about the 43 presidents prior to this one? It seems “racist” to me to expect one race to be treated with kid gloves while another race is not. Feeling sorry for or sensitive to someone’s racial/ethnic difference is a form of snobbery and builds barriers. For love’s sake, we are all in this melting pot together and for a very short time. Actually, personally, I think political cartoons are mostly “mean spirited” altogether, but they do give us pause for reflection and perhaps help keep politicians a little more humble.

PUUH-leeeeze! Get OVER it! He IS a freakin’ joke… LIVE with it… I sure as heck didn’t vote for the “community organizer”! What a freakin’ JOKE! I hope all you “hope-ers and change-ers” are happy now!?!

PUUH-leeeeze! Get OVER it! He IS a freakin’ joke… LIVE with it… I sure as heck didn’t vote for the “community organizer”! What a freakin’ JOKE! I hope all you “hope-ers and change-ers” are happy now!?!

I look at good cartooning as I do obscenities in language. If the point can be made at a lower level of exaggeration, why over do it and distract from the point? It’s the signature of good caricaturist when a cartoon can be presented and there is no question raised as to it being racist/obscene/etc. — from the comments, the cartoonist missed that point. I think this particular cartoon is overdone — and the features distract from the intended message.

The US is a very disrespectful and disgraceful country, I am not surprised that both characters seem racist to me. I am always embarrassed to be an American. What a shame Americans are driving their country into the ground.

JenNorris1–

If it makes you feel any better, I’m embarrassed that you are an American also.

I dont have a chip on my shoulder and Im not looking under every bed, theres no need when all you have to do is look around.With our history you would have to be an idiot not to think the countrys racist. Heres where you take a bow pal.

Muslim is a religious not a racial distinction. If you are going to try to get cute with the insults at least pretend to be somewhat intelligent.

Agreed. Typically people who espouse the “people are too sensitive” mantra are people who have not experienced racism in their life. While I did not find the cartoon particularly racist, to deny that there is a great deal of racial underpinning to the opposition to President Obama is naive at very best.

If our country was racist then Obama would not be our President today, period. Does that mean that racism doesn’t occur in the country? Of course not, but there are people of every race that are racist towards people of another race. It’s not just white towards black. It can very easily be a black being a racist towards a white or a Latino being a racist towards a black person. Oh yeah, and this occurs in every part of the world, not just here.

Here is where you bow out.

“But I didn’t hear anything from the Media about white men being denigrated, either now or when Bush was in office.

Hmmmmmmmmmmm…wonder why that is?”

Typically that is because there is no historical and systematic denigration of White men in society at least nothing with the power to turn them into 2nd class citizens. Despite the discomfort that some White men feel about the characatures created of them, they still enjoy vastly more power, authority, and deference with regards to American society.

While I agree that denigrating anyone is not the way we should be treating each other, there is still a special power that goes into the depiction of women and minority males that is not present when White men are being characatured. Insult a White guy and you are insulting him. Insult Black or Latino men and you are typically lumping them all together, except if he is “one of the good ones”.

So, this is offensive because the cartoonist exaggerated the President’s face? If I were Semitic, should I then be offended that he also exaggerated Qaddafi’s (spell-check is having issues with this year’s version of that) features? It’s a cartoon, stupid!

No, it is just a caricature and unless someone had pointed out to me the above I would have just schemed across it. A caricature is never suppose to be realistic and it is always laughable. I never take them serious – especially the ones done of me.

Remember, to some, he is holy, like certain books are to those in the middle east. So expect similar reactions when he, or the book, is not revered.

That is clearly NOT obama. Gadafi has his name written on him so the cartoonist clearly made fun of Gadafi.

The unnamed person on the left is just a figure head. If somebody wants to imagine that that person may be our POTUS, one must ask: Is that what is going through somebodies head when they imagine obama?

Maybe the cartoonist is racist, but if you think the cartoon is, you should ask yourself why these big ears are racist and the ones drawn on Bush II aren’t. Or the broad nose– Obama vs. Bill Clinton, etc.

Since when has Islam been a “Race” ? Religious profiling, maybe – but doubtful. Racial profiling ? Nope.

Tsk! Tsk! My oh my! Aren’t we touchy today….I’ve been told that liberals do not have much of a sense of humour; thanks for the confirmation.

“The caricature… is so disrespectful to the president of the United States, blabla-blah”

Duuuh! Caricature is BY DEFINITION disrespectful to the real features.
Being an exageration of them (for fun), because it’s a drawing and not a photograph, because it makes people recognizable with a few lines.

Racism: I don’t see or read anything in this subject pointing to racism.

Why do we care about some idiots think anyway?

Darkow’s toon is not overtly bigoted. Check out archives of Bush, Clinton and Reagan toons. Features are always exaggerated. My complaint is cartoonists who draw Obama with features that are common to people of West African descent. Darkow doesn’t do this.

What an idiot I am indeed, I forgot WHAT:Why do we care about WHAT some idiots think anyway?

I hope this makes you happy. But an idiot I am, since I’m wasting time here for a non-event, I fist thought this was about some politician comment, not the opinion of a nobody…sigh!

Some people can’t say anything without sticking ‘ist on the endist. By writing this am I a commentist? How dreadful…ist

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