As recently as April, one in ten Americans believed Barack Obama is a Muslim. While this doesnâ€™t tell us how many believe heâ€™s a dangerous Muslim, the level of ignorance is disturbing and is likely why so many were so concerned with The New Yorker cover released Sunday.
While I think the cover was an obvious satire, I also think Obama supporters are very right to be concerned about perceptions of Obamaâ€™s patriotism. The New Yorker was actually making fun of those who believe the slanders against Obama, but is parodying the idiots a proper response to these lies? Or should all portrayals of Obama as a dangerous Muslim be condemned, even if those portrayals are satirical?
I think The New Yorkerâ€™s approach was not as horrible as many think (although it was hardly the best of satire). The best way to address such lies is to put them out there and showcase how absurd they actually are. Shadow campaigns fail when bright light is shown upon them. Sure, The New Yorker cover is shocking and seems, at first glance, to propagate a nasty slander. But, when this is all over, I imagine that cover will have done more to defeat the â€œObama is a dangerous Muslimâ€ lie than will have any number of polite news articles pointing out the ignorance of the rumors.
Iâ€™m not suggesting satire be used in abundance to fight these lies. Just that, as always, satire has its place. And, as always, some people will be offended by the surface message and completely miss the underlying intent. Thatâ€™s o.k. Their offense is part of the mechanism that makes satire work. Without the offense, there is no discussion. Satire isn’t humor. It’s creative commentary.
Going forward, Obama supporters should be more open to how the despicable lies against Obama are handled. Calm, quiet reminders of the truth have their place. But stridency in the face of such dishonesty is not a bad method either.