I don’t find it particularly so. What am I saying? It’s not at all offensive in light of Harry Reid’s barely, marginally idiotic (and only for having been spoken too publicly) comments about Barack Obama’s speech and skin tone. Reid said in 2006 that Obama could become president because he was “light-skinned” and had “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”
Reid wasn’t wrong. This is still an essentially racist country. A black individual with skin darker than Obama’s or speech patterns more identifiably black, no matter his intellect, would unquestionably have had less of a chance than Obama (resurrect Martin Luther King and see for yourself). And “yes,” as John McWhorter writes in a fine essay on black English for the New Republic, “there is a such thing as Black English.” Reid’s mistake was to misjudge the juvenile media and political establishment, which is even more idiotic than the country is racist. What Reid said had the appearance of something vaguely inappropriate, and in an age of compulsive sanctimony, the country can’t go a day without finding one target or another to condemn as inappropriate. Tag you’re it, Reid.
The offense of the day though is the Omaha World Herald’s censoring of the above cartoon (that World Herald, former home of William Jennings Bryan and Ernest Hemingway). “Concerns were raised as to how the cartoon might be interpreted so my editor pulled it,” cartoonist Jeff Koterba told nealo.com. There was also something about color reproduction and the cartoonist intending the individuals Reid is addressing to be gangsta rappers, though the indeterminate hues must have also been part of the joke. Or should have been. Either way, spiked.