Monday, October 15, 2012

No, there's no way anyone could see racism here.

From the Daily News:

A New Jersey man who placed a photo of President Barack Obama depicted as a witch doctor in the front of his clothing store says he’s surprised the image has been criticized as racist.
Bill Skuby of Spring Lake, N.J.’s Skuby & Co. said the display simply represents his political position.

He has temporarily removed the Halloween display amid ongoing criticism.
"It always comes down to the race card,” Skuby, 66,told of the backlash he's received.
The witch doctor picture shows President Obama naked except for a headdress and loincloth, with a bone through his nose.

“If this is racism, then it’s reverse racism,” Skuby told the Asbury Park Press. “I think they’re as racist as they accuse me of being,” he said.

The anti-Obama sign, which also reads “Obama-Care” with a hammer and sickle logo, a reference to communism, is a criticism of the president’s health care plan.

Read the whole thing here.


Thomas D said...

It may be racist (no, I'll join you: it is racist), but I think it also falls under the rubric, like it or not, of permissible freedom of expression. If this country is going to be in the business of banning speech or expression for reasons of racial insensitivity, or for other equally "valid" reasons, then perhaps we should replace the stars and stripes flying over our civic buildings with the hammer and sickle that Mr Skuby used in his display.

As the poet E E Cummings once wrote in a letter to a friend (I preserve his unusual spelling):

"there once was a country of owe
such lofty ideals that no
man ever could mension
(imagine the tention)
what might have offended jane dough"

Alisha De Freitas said...

Hey Thomas,

I love ee Cummings and his unusual punctuation.

It is a free country. No argument here. People have the right to their own beliefs, no matter how abhorrent or racist. And their critics have a right to call them out on it.

Ain't freedom grand? Thanks for the comment.

Thomas D said...

You're welcome! I guess I'm just puzzled that, while caricatures of the president's immediate predecessor (Curious George?) were widely accepted as routine, similar caricatures of the current president make national news as some impermissible affront to the national psyche. I worry less about the president's feelings than about the attempted squelching of such modes of expression, however crass and objectionable they may be.

I hope I've been neither too long-winded nor too cranky! And thank you for following the Tambourine!

Alisha De Freitas said...

I meant to follow it a long time ago. I need more poetry on my life.

Is there a double standard? Yup. But I do understand some of the criticism about the way Obama has been depicted. Historically Blacks were drawn as monkeys and apes to equate us with animals. The picture above of Obama as witchdoctor equates him as a savage. There have been cartoons of him dressed as a pimp, rapper, Michelle as a video ho and militant. I saw one with even their daughters photoshopped as monkeys. After a while, it's hard NOT to see the racism. So while all presidents get trashed, even Thomas Jefferson's affair with Sally Hemmings was up for public ridicule, it's not without reason for people to see more than just politics here.

Thomas D said...

The treatment of Mrs Obama by some on the Right has been absolutely reprehensible. (There's plenty to criticize the President about -- policy! -- without dragging spouses or family into it!) And then there was Fox News, I believe, which once referred to the First Lady as the President's "baby mama." Deplorable.

But on a different subject. Have I neglected to say how much I enjoy this blog? Always informative, compelling, edifying.

Alisha De Freitas said...

Awww, really? Thank you. Sometimes I wonder why I bother!

Since you have a great love for poetry and music, I'd love to know your opinion on the current state of contemporary Christian music. Could I send you a list of questions via email? Please? :-)

Don said...

He also said he’s gotten scores of calls of support and he’s standing behind the sign and it’s political message.

I'm hardly surprised by anything negatively witnessed since Barack Obama was sworn as POTUS. It's seemingly everywhere. To the point where it makes me wonder how in the world he was elected in the first place. But then I remember one voice or action never truly speaks for everyone in the world, no matter how much outrage it causes, and then it becomes not as much of a big deal.

And regardless of whatever negative depiction, there's always a "political message" claimed somewhere in the mix [isn't it] which only the author and the author's sycophants are able to define.

In the end, I almost want to have sympathy for Bill Skuby. maybe one day he will reflect upon this and realize he was wrong.

Alisha De Freitas said...

"But then I remember one voice or action never truly speaks for everyone in the world, no matter how much outrage it causes, and then it becomes not as much of a big deal."
Indeed! Media has a way of magnifying things, too.
"In the end, I almost want to have sympathy for Bill Skuby. maybe one day he will reflect upon this and realize he was wrong."
Here's to hoping...

Thomas D said...

Hello again, Alisha --

You could send me those questions about contemporary Christian music, but I'm afraid I really don't know much about the genre -- unless the hymns, somewhat modern in flavor, that I hear at my Catholic church qualify! I think I know more about golf than about contemporary Christian music!

At the Catholic church on any given Sunday, one can hear a curious mix of very good (mostly Anglican and Methodist!) hymns of the 18th and 19th century, and some "looser" '70s and '80s songs by persons like Marty Haugen and Bernadette Farrell. Some of these songs can sound rather maudlin and/or Broadwayish in my opinion.

But yes, feel free to email me. I'll put a link to my email on my blogger profile.

Alisha De Freitas said...

Yes, I'd love to hear your opinion, especially as a Catholic. I want varying (and honest) opinions! Thank you!

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