Satirical image tasteless: Obama team

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 15.07.08

Washington, July 14 (AP): Barack Obama’s campaign says a satirical New Yorker magazine cover showing the Democratic presidential candidate dressed as a Muslim and his wife as a terrorist is “tasteless and offensive”.

The illustration on the issue that hit newsstands today, titled “The Politics of Fear” and drawn by Barry Blitt, depicts Barack Obama wearing what is commonly construed by western media as traditional Muslim garb — sandals, robe and turban — and his wife, Michelle, dressed in camouflage, combat boots and an assault rifle strapped over her shoulder. They are pictured standing in the Oval Office.

The couple are bumping fists in a replication of a gesture seen at the start of the Democratic nominee’s victory rally, controversially described by a Fox News anchor as a “terrorist fist”.

The presenter — E.D. Hill who subsequently lost her Fox News show — later apologised for the comments, and insisted that they had not been meant seriously.

Over the mantel hangs a portrait of Osama bin Laden.

“The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama’s Right-wing critics have tried to create,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton. “But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree.”

In a statement today, the magazine said the cover “combines a number of fantastical images about the Obamas and shows them for the obvious distortions they are”.

“The burning flag, the nationalist-radical and Islamic outfits, the fist-bump, the portrait on the wall?

“All of them echo one attack or another. Satire is part of what we do, and it is meant to bring things out into the open, to hold up a mirror to prejudice, the hateful, and the absurd. And that’s the spirit of this cover,” the New Yorker statement said.

It also pointed to the two articles on Obama contained inside the magazine, calling them “very serious”.

Republican John McCain’s campaign spokesman, Tucker Bonds, agreed that the cover was “tasteless and offensive”.

Already the cover was generating controversy on the Internet.

The Huffington Post, a Left-leaning blog, said: “Anyone who’s tried to paint Obama as a Muslim, anyone who’s tried to portray Michelle as angry or a secret revolutionary out to get Whitey, anyone who has questioned their patriotism — well, here’s your image”.

In Arizona, Republican John McCain said the cover was “totally inappropriate and frankly I understand if Senator Obama and his supporters would find it offensive.”

A Newsweek poll released on Friday showed that 12 per cent of those polled believed Obama was sworn in as a US senator on a Quran, and 26 per cent believed that he was raised as a Muslim. Neither is true.