Sketch artist Ted Rall has come under fire after the recent posting of a cartoon depicting President Obama with apelike features.

Rall’s comic strip, posted on the liberal blog site Daily Kos on Nov. 27, portrays Obama with a close-shaven head covered in bristles, a protuberant nose that dominates his face and a simian-shaped jaw that juts out from his lower face.

The depiction also contrasts statements the commander-in-chief has made about the Affordable Care Act and Afghanistan with what Rall deems the reality. For example, in one illustration he quotes Obama as saying, “We are bringing all our troops back from Afghanistan by 2014…sorta,” and contrasts it with a scenario in which the president tells an Afghan official, “If you like our current occupation troops, you can keep them.”

Apparently, the Daily Kos was not amused. Later that day, Rall said, when he tried to log on, he received a reprimand from the site’s administrator: “Your depiction of Barack Obama as ape-like is intolerable. Being critical of Obama, even ferociously so, is not the problem. Through British and American history, Blacks have been subject to racist depictions of themselves as monkeys and apes. No excuse is acceptable for replicating that history, no matter what your intent. If it happens again, your posting privileges will be suspended.”

The self-professed left-winger took the warning as an invitation to leave, but not before he fired a few shots at the site, including the fact that he was not paid for his work.

“The grounds for censoring my cartoons from the site — my drawing style — are beneath contempt,” Rall wrote in a Nov. 28 posting on the Daily Kos web site. “Anyone familiar with me and my work knows I’m not racist. My criticisms of the president are unrelated to his race, and to say otherwise in the absence of evidence is disgusting.”

He added, “It should be noted that my editors at a variety of American newspapers, magazines and websites, almost all of whom are left of center politically, some of whom are Black and many of whom voted for Obama, have never expressed the slightest concern about the way I draw the president.”

This is not the first time President Obama has been depicted as an ape. In 2009, the New York Post gained notoriety when it published the image of a rabid chimpanzee lying bloodied and bullet-riddled on a sidewalk after being gunned down by police officers. The accompanying caption read: “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO