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Sometimes A Monkey Is Just A Monkey

Sam Stein of the Huffington Post and Al Sharpton are up in arms about an editorial cartoon in today's New York Post. The cartoon, playing off a news story about a rabid chimpanzee who was shot by police officers,uses the punchline "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill." Like the vast majority of editorial cartoons, it's pretty dumb.

Sharpton complains:

The cartoon in today's New York Post is troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys.

Stein is slightly more cautious:

At its most benign, the cartoon suggests that the stimulus bill was so bad, monkeys may as well have written it. Others believe it compares the president to a rabid chimp. Either way, the incorporation of violence and (on a darker level) race into politics is bound to be controversial.

But, look, obviously the point is that the stimulus bill could have been written by a monkey. The monkey doesn't look like Obama and is in no way suposed to represent him. And it incorporated violence because the monkey in the news story was, in fact, shot -- and the punchline depends on the monkey being dead and thus unavailable to write further legislation. Again, while it's a mediocre joke at best, Obama supporters shouldn't be looking for racial slights around every corner. So far there have been very few of them.

--Jonathan Chait