Sharpton: 'Stunning' NY Post cartoon compares Obama to dead chimp
David Edwards and Mike Sheehan
Published: Wednesday February 18, 2009

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Longtime Post cartoonist no stranger to controversy

Civil rights activist and former presidential candidate Rev. Al Sharpton says that a cartoon in the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post compares President Barack Obama to a dead chimpanzee. Sharpton, calling the publication of the panel "stunning," sees it as a racial slur.

In the cartoon, a white police officer has just gunned down an ape and says to his white partner, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," a reference to the massive bailout legislation heavily pushed and ultimately signed by the president. The stimulus package was bitterly criticized by Republican lawmakers, with House Minority Leader John Boehner at one point even tossing a printout of the bill to the floor.

The ape in the cartoon is overtly patterned after Travis, a 14-year-old pet chimp in Connecticut who just two days ago went berserk and mauled a woman before being shot to death by a police officer. But Sharpton and others perceive something more sinister at work.

"People are saying that there's no way you can't draw a racial reference here," said Sharpton to MSNBC's Tamron Hall. "What does a chimpanzee have to do with the stimuli bill and the president? What does any of it have to do with a chimpanzee being shot, other than you're trying to make a very shrewd inference that the president and a monkey is the same thing?"

The longtime Post cartoonist, Sean Delonas, is no stranger to controversy, as earlier pieces attributed to him demonstrate.

"Fire Department brass and rank-and-file Bravest blasted the New York Post yesterday for a cartoon showing a firefighter telling a dying comrade at Ground Zero: 'Goodbye dear friend. By the way, is your wife free Tuesday?'" Post competitor Daily News reported in 2003. "Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta sent the Post a letter calling the cartoon 'tasteless,' sources said."

Sharpton himself has been a target of Delonas, such as when local politician Fernando Ferrer, who is of Puerto Rican descent, ran for mayor of New York City. In one cartoon, Delonas depicted Sharpton and Ferrer, a supporter of same-sex marriage, being wed, as a white man with an 'I love New York' shirt is shown objecting. Another Delonas cartoon that featured Ferrer kissing Sharpton's posterior was the subject of controversy after supporters of Democratic rival Mark Green passed it out before the 2001 primaries.

On at least one occasion, even the Post thought their cartoonist went too far.

"Delonas celebrated Ms. Bishop's departure with a cartoon that was so offensive his superiors ordered it shredded," The New York Observer reported in 1998, after former Post women's page editor Kathy Bishop resigned because her "job solicitation intended for Daily News editorial director Harold Evans wound up in the wrong hands."

This time they're sticking by him.

"The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event," editor-in-chief Col Allan said in a statement. "It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist."

This video is from MSNBC's News Live, broadcast Feb. 18, 2009.

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Some past Delonas cartoons found in the New York Post archives follow:

Gawker mocks that Delonas has "such a rich history" that they "assembled ten of his all-time classics of hate."

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