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Obama Lion King Cartoon Causes Cries of 'Racism'

The editor of the Daily Lobo, the student newspaper of the University of New Mexico, issued an apology in response to criticism from students after it published this Hajo cartoon about the death of Osama bin Laden. Many of the protesters said they thought the cartoon resembled images used in the past to justify slavery.

Obama Lion King cartoon baboon
Cartoon by Hajo (click to enlarge)

The cartoon parodies a famous scene from “The Lion King,” having Obama play the role of Rafiki, the baboon. Instead of holding up Simba to announce his birth, Obama is holding up the head of Osama bin Laden, announcing his death. It’s the same scene that Obama tweaked Donald Trump with as a joke at the White House correspondents dinner last week.

We syndicate Hajo’s cartoons.  Hajo is based in the Netherlands and draws for the Dutch newspapers NRC Handelsblad, NRC Next and de Pers.

“I’m so NOT racist,” Hajo said via email. “I see Obama a president and a person. And therefore I think it’s OK to let the president act in the Lion King.”

As a European cartoonist, Hajo is less aware of the sensitivity among readers when they see Obama as a monkey. Still. he said he should have known better.

“Not everyone can ‘read’ a cartoon,” Hajo said.  “Some people get stuck in simple stereotypes. And that’s too bad, because a lot of the humor and insight lies behind the obvious.”

“Regrettably, this cartoon offended the African-American community — along with many others — who interpreted Obama’s representation as racist,” write Chris Quintana, the editor of the Daily Lobo. “For this oversight, I sincerely apologize.”

In 2009, New York Post cartoonist Sean Delonas drew the now-infamous cartoon showing a chimp shot by two policeman, who say “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.” The prevailing view among the bloggers and talking-heads back then was the cartoon was a racist depiction of Obama as a monkey.

Back then, I suggested that every cartoonist should make a list of every racial stereotype to avoid regarding African-Americans, then go through the check list before putting pen to paper on any Obama cartoon, like a pilot goes through a check list before taking off in his plane.

The difficulty of course is that many cartoonists drew George W. Bush as a monkey. The cartoonists all chose to draw Bush with big monkey ears and a huge, monkey-like upper lip, so drawing Bush as a monkey was a natural progression. Now the cartoonists are all drawing Obama with similar, big monkey ears and we’re starting to hear complaints from readers about how we draw Obama’s lips.  Presidents also get shorter in cartoons if they don’t perform well, and chimps are short, forcing cartoonists to have to tiptoe through a racial-metaphor-minefield.

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 “Obama Lion King Cartoon Causes Cries of 'Racism'”

Oliphant’s penguin would be aghast at these attempts to curtail creative editorial cartooning. Personally I thought triumph, not racism.

So is Obama going to become the Muhammad of American culture now? We can’t even use HIS OWN joke against him or it’s racism?? How far will hypocritical liberals go to squash the voice of dissent or even humorous criticism? All these wolf cries of racism are starting to render it and its meaning mute. Soon, the shepherds won’t budge and the sheep will be eaten. Ooops…an animal metaphor. Does that make ME racist ALSO?

So is Obama going to become the Muhammad of American culture now? We can’t even use HIS OWN joke against him or it’s racism?? How far will hypocritical liberals go to squash the voice of dissent or even humorous criticism? All these wolf cries of racism are starting to render it and its meaning mute. Soon, the shepherds won’t budge and the sheep will be eaten. Ooops…an animal metaphor. Does that make ME racist ALSO?

If you feel so strongly, why didn’t you tell us how you read the cartoon!

Really, What other message is there!?

Choose one of the 3 answers:

X Simba was really Bin laden corpse

X The circle of life, ends with Bin Laden

check ! Obama is a “black monkey” holding up his trophy?

expose racism for what it is…

-WMDfail

folks, get a life. let america feel good in triumphover our most hated enemy……

Obama used the Lion King metaphor about himself on Saturday.

He kills-off Usama the next day. The cartoon is produced after that.

Are you claiming that Obama is a racist?

Expose stupid hyper-sensitivity for what it is!

Equality of opportunity means equality of liability.

It was clearly not a racist cartoon.

Context and history certainly do matter!

Whiners are far too ignorant of it — almost always.

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“Are you claiming that Obama is a
racist?”

No, and you don’t explain clearly how
my argument leads to your whimsy conclusion.

Again, if we are hypersensitive
Americans. What then, is the authors intent, by drawing the president
as a dark-skinned monkey?

– Bigotry defenders, will always attack
the people who are offended instead of explaining their own views.
They greatly risk exposing the ugliness of it.

He was not drawn as a monkey. There was no bigotry intent in this case (which was already clearly explained to you.)

(What the Hell does “whimsy conclusion” mean?)

You are not a bright as you imply. Get over yourself.

I am no more offended by this cartoon than I was when the President used the same theme himself at the Correspondent’s Dinner.

I am much more offended by the “torture works” cartoons
.

“He was not drawn as a monkey.”

What other animal if not a monkey?…but remember that the character “Rafiki” is a monkey. So perhaps he was drawn as a giraffe, in your mind.

You are still challenged to explain your interpretation of the cartoon…

Is English a second language to you? Asked and answered…Twice!

I’ll try once more and then you can ‘Chicken Little’ with somebody else:

He was drawn as the president holding Usama’s head. Neither were drawn as animals.

BTW, GW Bush has been characterized as a monkey countless times. Last time I checked, both he and the current president are human beings.

Look to yourself for racism.

Apparently you never saw the Lion King and the way he held up his son for the whole world to see. He was proud! Why does everyone have to make it about race with this President. Everything and anything is a racist comment about him. I see Obama in the news basking in the glory of getting Bin Laden and that goes perfectly with the cartoon. It’s the truly racist people who see racism in this cartoon. Have we forgotten what caricature portraits are all about. Quit making this about race. It’s not.

This is the new code word for the 2012 re-election for the Liar-in-chief’s …remember Chuck “you” Schumer’s oopsy telephone call about the caucus said to use the word “extreme” now it’s “racists”. Racist this racist that if you oppose ANYTHING that the messiah does…

Racist or not, this cartoon is crude and in less than dignified taste. Americans consider themselves above criticism and always in the right. They are now showing themselves to be less than civilized. Oh, and by the bye, there is no real proof of anything involving bin Laden from his involvement in the attack on New York and the Pentagon right up to his assassination.

WMDfail..

Funny, I never thought of lions as being representative of any particular race.

But then you seem to be one of the few who has.

No apologies were needed for this cartoon. The only thing revealed here is that we have a lot of ignorant people who are looking for the opportunity to claim they have been insulted. If you see a chimp (and thus a racist put-down) in the message of this cartoon then you are (a) too dim to understand the message, and (b) too thin-skinned to be capable of any intelligent discourse. Recommendation to such people: grow up and get a life.

Facts, Osama had and Obama has a brown complexion. The cartoon shows both men appropriately
brown skinned. American Indians (also brown complexions) use
to introduce their new born to the world in this manner (sort of a baptism). This tradition was shown in the film
“The Lion King.” So I cannot
understand how someone deduces from these facts and the cartoon’s appropriate depiction
of the characters, that the cartoonist had a racial intent. Somebody please help me understand. PS Now
don’t just call me a racist, ’cause you think I’m lily white, ’cause I’m actually a
wonderful genetic blend and in the summer can proudly pass as a brown skinned American
Indian.

Those that find this cartoon racist are looking for something to be offended about, and apparently never saw the movie.

The slavery and racism is in their own eyes.

As the great philosopher Sgt. Hulka said in “Stripes,” “Lighten up, Francis.”

As the great philosopher Sgt. Hulka said in “Stripes,” “Lighten up, Francis.”

This politically correct crap has gone too far, too long. People need to loosen up a bit (as Obama has).

I seem to recall that bin Laden claimed credit himself on the internet…(there is more than one “Glen”)

The difficulty of course is that many cartoonists drew George W. Bush as a monkey. ”

Tis no difficulty at all. George W Bush does NOT belong to a group that has been historically marginalized and dehumanized, specifically through depiction as apes/monkeys. Therefore there is never, ever, ever a chance of racism in depicting George W Bush (or any white person) as a monkey. Sorry, white people (and I am among your number) but centuries of using this kind of imagery to imply that black people are not quite human means find your Obama joke imagery somewhere else. I’m sure you can work up some sort of Dumbo ears thing.

The difficulty of course is that many cartoonists drew George W. Bush as a monkey. ”

Tis no difficulty at all. George W Bush does NOT belong to a group that has been historically marginalized and dehumanized, specifically through depiction as apes/monkeys. Therefore there is never, ever, ever a chance of racism in depicting George W Bush (or any white person) as a monkey. Sorry, white people (and I am among your number) but centuries of using this kind of imagery to imply that black people are not quite human means find your Obama joke imagery somewhere else. I’m sure you can work up some sort of Dumbo ears thing.

Aren’t we all descended from apes?!? Why should the African-American community take any specific or particular umbrage at the President (who should be fair game in any political cartoon sense) being protrayed as a cartoon character who happen to be a monkey. Much ado about nothing.

Aren’t we all descended from apes?!? Why should the African-American community take any specific or particular umbrage at the President (who should be fair game in any political cartoon sense) being protrayed as a cartoon character who happen to be a monkey. Much ado about nothing.

Aren’t we all descended from apes?!? Why should the African-American community take any specific or particular umbrage at the President (who should be fair game in any political cartoon sense) being protrayed as a cartoon character who happen to be a monkey. Much ado about nothing.

DUMBASS LIBERALS HAVE TO USE RACISM BECAUSE THEY DON’T HAVE ANYTHING ELSE TO WHINE ABOUT!

Obama made a Lion King joke. He can’t complain when someone makes one after that. No, really, he did.

One would think that the fact that the president is black would demonstrate that equzlity has been achieved, but that is not the case. Any disagreement with or questioning of his policies, as well as any portrayals of him as less than messianic causes outcries of racism. This rather demonstrates that we may truley not be ready for a Black president… not because Americans are prejudiced against him based on race, but because his proponents use his race as a way of squelching anyone who questions him.
No one is truly equal until they accept equality, rather than searching for any reason to cry “racism”. The Obama administration has been so fraught with cries of “racism”, that the word no longer has any meaning.

Um, that actually doesn’t matter because it’s not the same thing. He wasn’t the monkey in that joke. So, yeah.

Um, that actually doesn’t matter because it’s not the same thing. He wasn’t the monkey in that joke. So, yeah.

Um, that actually doesn’t matter because it’s not the same thing. He wasn’t the monkey in that joke. So, yeah.

I admit to being an Obama supporter but I did not associate this as being racist. To me it was simply a way of acknowledging the Obama announcement of the death of Bin Laudin. The scene used was from a very happy scene in the movie and is a positive happening so why look to make anything else. It seems that too many people look for racist meanings no matter how much they have to dig for it.

I didn’t see Lion King, so I can’t comment. It did remind me of the scene in the TV series Roots, when Kunta Kinte was born though. Is that racist?

I believe you are a person who, like Jesse Jackson, can never be satisfied about racism. Of course racism exists, but I’m not sure how it is related to this cartoon. But then, I’ve never seen “The Lion King”. Obama’s pastor, Rev Wright is a racist, but I have no problem with it. I know that white people and black people primarily don’t trust each other. That’s not to suggest that close personal relationships don’t exist between people.

But it’s when Rev Wright screams “God damn America” that I draw the line.

Perhaps I should post as Glen2.

Yes, there is much on the internet and television concerning video tapes of bin Laden. However, much of it was proven false. That sort of thing is very very easy to edit. Also, however, there is no evidence whatsoever filed with the FBI, government, et al., to prove that bin Laden participated in anything having to do with these attacks. All that has been touted are Pentagon outlines or government outlines, and folks swallowed it. Except of course, for those of us who have researched further.

To repeat, because of what white people have done to give racialized meaning to imagery of black people as animals, specifically as monkeys, white people just don’t get to use that imagery and claim it doesn’t have a racial meaning anymore. We only have ourselves to blame, really.

Personally, I don’t think the cartoon fits well with the moment in The Lion King that is being referenced, so I guess that even outside the racial imagery, it’s not something I’d have gone with anyway.

Furthermore, I don’t think that such speech or drawings need to be censored or anything–I just think commentary as to the meanings of images are appropriate. Also, I do not think that doing a thing that has racist implications makes a person a racist, and it’s important that when calling this sort of thing out we focus on the action and why it is racist rather than merely dismissing the artist or commentator or whatever as a racist.

“white people just don’t get to use that imagery and claim it doesn’t have a racial meaning anymore.”

Except when it doesn’t.

“Personally, I don’t think the cartoon fits well with the moment in The
Lion King that is being referenced, so I guess that even outside the
racial imagery, it’s not something I’d have gone with anyway.

Joke? What’s a joke?

“and it’s important that when calling this sort of thing out we focus on the action and why it is racist”

Here’s the thing, it’s not.

My point is that the imagery is inextricably linked with its history of use to dehumanize a specific group of people. Once that happens, you really can’t use that imagery without that history being present in the imagery.

Obviously, whether or not the cartoon works as a reference to The Lion King is a matter of taste. From what I remember, the whole point of that whole holding up the baby lion thing was celebration of birth. Throwing in a reference to death seems weird to me, that’s all.

As to your third piece of commentary, please just refer back to the first paragraph of this response.

I’m so damn sick of every criticism of the “Great” Obama being labeled racism I could puke. I don’t know who these self appointed judges are but they must have such small brains they can’t present a decent argument in favor of this Muslim sympathizing, illegal alien Chicago mobster so they just cry Racist. Tell them to go to hell and keep up the great humor, there’s a ton to be had with this moron in office.

“As to your third piece of commentary, please just refer back to the first paragraph of this response”

So, basically, you look for racism just to get offended.

And so did the president by throwing Wright under the bus…the minute it was politically expedient for him!

Many images are shorthand reference for other things, good, bad and neutral. I don’t even know that editorial cartoons could work in their mostly one panel format without visual shorthand to stand in for larger concepts–Uncle Sam as the US, for example. To pretend that imagery of black people as monkeys doesn’t have an established history of implied dehumanization based on race is simply disingenuous.

I am not offended. I am contemptuous. It’s no skin off my nose to avoid the use of language/metaphors/images that are painful to others because of their history of telling people from certain groups that they are less than. When others won’t do that, I’m only left with contempt for their preference of cheap jokes over respecting the dignity that is common to all humans.

“To pretend that imagery of black people as monkeys doesn’t have an
established history of implied dehumanization based on race is simply
disingenuous.”

Obama made a joke with that scene. Now someone else did. That is not racist.

All I saw was B.O trying to look like he personally rid us of Osama. After all anyone who says he can part the skies and stop the tides or something to that extent is happy seeing himself as a King

I’m from Australia and I didn’t get the “racist” element. Hajo’s cartoon was relevant, intelligent and appropriate – is there no end to the ludicrous “sensitivities” we now all have to accommodate.

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“Doug is a Dog”

Your not a dog but just image if a cartoon is drawn with you as a dog. Your friends get upset. Does its make the cartoon acceptable since it was “derived” from your own Internet name?

Twisting something from “innocent” to “ugly” is not ironic, it moronic.

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“I believe you are a person who, like Jesse Jackson, can never be satisfied about racism.”

What did Jessy Jackson do recently, that makes you believe he can never be “satisfied about racism?”

“Again, if we are hypersensitive

Americans. What then, is the authors intent, by drawing the president

as a dark-skinned monkey?”

Obama made a joke about this scene in The Lion King recently. So, the cartoonist made another joke about it.

Lion king Racial?… maybe only offensive to Muslims..
In the new Obama-American dream-state the Two IMPORTANT criteria to be Racist were not met ( see below ) so it is not racist if either of the 2 points below were correct then this would be RACIST and there would need to be repercussions.1. White Man in the same imagery 2. A Republican or Libertarian touting Anti-Socialist/Communist remarks 37 years for reverse discrimination… why stop now.. just throw out the constitution and use it as toilet paper and write a new Manifesto for America based on the ideological beliefs of the few to control the many.. screw freedom of press!

Ken, Ken, Ken. My how low some Republicons have stooped to blame Democrats for the race and other divisions in this country.

Always seems that white males are the ones most vocal about denying that there are problems with either racism or sexism.

What’s the going rate? white women earn something like 80% as much as white males, and minority females earn even less for doing the same job?

Always seems that white males are the ones most vocal about denying that there are problems with either racism or sexism.

What’s the going rate? white women earn something like 80% as much as white males, and minority females earn even less for doing the same job?

There were a few rumours running around that the versions of bin Laden videos shown in the US had different soundtracks and/or translations than those shown elsewhere.

Let’s face it: even without buying into the whole 9-11 conspiracy deal, there were some really strange things happening. No one has ever been able to explain how Mohammed Atta’s wallet fell out of his pocket, out of the WTC, only to land a few blocks away, be picked up by some passerby, and anonymously handed over to the police.

Then: why did Atta put his last will and testament in the baggage he intended to bring with him on the plane?

Glen2 here.

Ole Glen is very aware of the cartoon from the Netherlands, and many many others that are in very poor taste. Attempting to validate one crude event by comparing it to another renders the argument invalid. Perhaps you aren’t aware of the editing that goes on with youtube entries.

geoff, you are so right, and your information is only a drop in the bucket involved in the extensive research done on the attack on the trade center and Pentagon. The research has been done by reputable institutions and individuals. The doubts surrounding the entire event, the Bush administration, and the overall corruption of the government involving puppets such as bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, et al., in their agenda, is the reason thousands of us suspect the actions of the Obama administration in this bin Laden assassination, and why we’d like to demand some decency on the part of the media, if not the general populace and government.

Yes, Geoff, there were strange dealings. Namely, a couple of Jihadist psychopaths flying planes into buildings. That’s not a common sight.

“There were a few rumours running around that the versions of bin
Laden videos shown in the US had different soundtracks and/or
translations than those shown elsewhere.”

There are rumors that Barack Obama’s a Kenyan to. Both of these rumors are wishful thinking.

“Namely, a couple of Jihadist psychopaths flying planes into buildings.” Is that what they were? Clinically proven and all that?

“Both of these rumors are wishful thinking.” You’re sure? You’re fluent in Arabic and heard the original sources?

No, but no one who is has said the translation we heard is false.

Further, if you fly a plane into a building, chances are you’re a fucking psycho.

“I see Obama in the news basking in the glory of getting Bin Laden and that goes perfectly with the cartoon.”

That is one viewpoint. But is the Pres. drawn as a monkey? then the context changes to negative. There is proof. What are two defining characteristics that distinguish humans from primates? bipedal locomotion,arm to leg ratio.

Apes have a larger arm to leg ratio than humans. They use the long arms to reach out for branches when climbing trees and used for locomotion when running. A clever cartoonist knows how to express this idea. In the cartoon, the caricature of Pres. Obama has long arms. The arms are long enough to reach the ground for locomotion. Also, primates do not have the ability to stand upright for long periods of time. They don’t have the hip joints and spinal column that needed. Even the cartoonist, knows this. He drew, pres. Obama caricature with a hunched over appearance. Not standing erect, like you would expect from a winning soccer player holding a trophy for example.Finally, the editor indirectly admitted to it, within his apology.

So, the idea that he is not draw as an monkey is absurd, intellectually dishonest and debunked.

Drawing chartreuses of black-people as monkeys, has a long ugly history in America. It was used to divide our nation. “Context and history matter.” So why are many surprised when people still respond to an obvious “bigot-like” images against the president when they are published.

Thanks for your post, and actually answering the question.

People see and believe what they choose to see and believe, and that is the problem we all have as far as relating honestly with each other is concerned.

We all filter everything through our beliefs, which are not always conscious.

Many appear to be operating on auto-pilot, and that explains the knee-jerk reactions that make no sense to anyone else.

As the modern ideas of democracy and individual freedom spread around the globe, we still have to deal with our human natures.

Paradoxically, that’s both the bad and the good of it. We are in our own way, and we are the answer to the problem.

Perhaps, that was the original message of the Biblical commandment to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and the refresher provided by the teacher Jesus, to “Judge not.” Buddha taught pretty much the same think – quit thinking so much.

If you look without naming, labeling, or judging, you might, you just might, actually see the truth.

I partially agree with your post…

But, Biblical Christians believe that Jesus is God,
not just a teacher.

Mackerelmat, show evidence that amateurs could fly those planes in such a flightpath, especially the one that hit the Pentagon. As for the Pentagon, why wasn’t there wings, fuselage, or lawn damage with that hit? I have a list of whys and wherefores that you should ask, yourself, rather than accept government propaganda.

“show evidence that amateurs could fly those planes in such a flightpath”

They were steering the planes in such a way that they hit a large building. That is not very difficult at all.

“As for the Pentagon, why wasn’t there wings, fuselage, or lawn damage with that hit?”

There WAS plane wreckage, just not much. Most of it had just been destroyed when the plane RAN INTO A FUCKING CONCRETE BUILDING!

“I have a list of whys and wherefores that you should ask, yourself, rather than accept government propaganda.”

Why do conspiracy theorists continue to spread misinformation?

Why do you self-righteous douchebags continue to insist on things that have been proven false?

Hey, I’ve got an idea! It’s because you’re idiots!

If, in fact, this group of terrorists were involved, you must consider they flew a couple of times in a Cessna type airplane, not a huge commercial jet, which takes a considerable amount of knowlege to fly even in a straight line. The plane that hit the pentagon was in a flight path that even experienced and certified pilots deny could be done by amateurs. As I will respond in a post to Mackerelmat, there are hundreds of institutions that have researched this event, not just conspiracy folks. Were that not the case, I probably would not have troubled myself to spend the time to read and hear what engineers and universities have to say. One organization is Pilots for 9/11 Truth, which no one may contribute to unless they are certified pilots with a lot of hours in the air.

Insults do not help you learn. Using insults only makes you feel as if you have won.

Read my response to TessK. I have flown a small airplane with my uncle, who let me “steer” the plane. Having done that a few times, it became obvious to me that NOBODY such an amateur as myself could fly those commercial jets, even in a straight line. Certified pilots have pretty much proven how it was just about impossible, but most espeicially the hit on the Pentagon. Have you ever really seen a big plane crash? Engines, wings, fuselage, tail, are all visible no matter how traumatic the crash. Ever seen any real photos or videos of the pentagon after the fact? How about the crash in Pennsylvania? NOTHING. All you could see of the pentagon was a hole.

At any rate. Don’t eschew the enormous amount of research that has been accomplished just because you doubt anything but the propaganda. I’m glad I took the time and energy to do so myself, even if it is disturbing.

“Proven false”?

Why do you continue to insist that abortion is murder, that a foetus is either a baby, child, or human being?

Let’s face it: even without buying into the whole 9-11 conspiracy deal,
there were some really strange things happening. No one has ever been
able to explain how Mohammed Atta’s wallet fell out of his pocket, out
of the WTC, only to land a few blocks away, be picked up by some
passerby, and anonymously handed over to the police.

Then: why did Atta put his last will and testament in the baggage he intended to bring with him on the plane?

Prove that false.

I see President Obama as a lion in the cartoon. An association that he made himself, in good humour.
Not racist or in poor taste. I think its is funny.  I am an African American woman who is very sensitive to the negative portrayals of Black people in the media.  However, I am not offended by the cartoon.

Racists want equality. They want to be treated the same way a white man is treated.
Bush was drawn as a monkey with big lips and obama was drawn as a monkey with big lips. There’s no discrimination here. There’s no racism here. We have two presidents that are picked on in the same way with the same exaggerated facial features.

Racists want equality, now they have it. Why do they want to no be treated diffrently now? I just don’t get it.

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