Are Some Cartoonists Crossing the Line from Caricature to Bigotry?

I realize there are bigger issues than cartoons. But cartoons can be powerful tools for shaping opinion. Some recent cartoons of President Obama and the First Lady, Michelle Obama, really exaggerate features common to many African-Americans.

In 2009, a controversy emerged when users found that by entering “Michelle Obama” into Google Images, they could view a picture of the First Lady altered to resemble a monkey.

But what about the numerous caricatures of President Obama that make him look like an ape? You can do a Google images search for “Obama cartoons” to see numerous examples.

Cartoonists always mock the President. It’s a tradition. There are cartoons of President George W. Bush that make him look like a monkey.

But I have a nagging feeling that there’s something more sinister at play here. In the 80s and 90s, one rarely saw images depicting African-Americans as monkeys. It was not only passe, it was acknowledged as racist. Yet now that Obama is president, it seems that an invisible switch has been flipped and people think these kind of images are acceptable.

What do you think?

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