Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Modest Explanation

“I personally believe that US Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and the Iraq everywhere like such as and I believe that they should our education over here in the US should help the US or should help South Africa it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for us.”

Miss Teen South Carolina on Americans' ignorance of geography

“I respect people's reactions — I'm just trying to as calmly and as clearly as possible talk about what this image means and what it was intended to mean and what I think most people will see — when they think it through — that it means.”

David Remnick on Americans' ignorance of satire

I heard Roland Barthes hooting from my bookshelf this morning, “What a twit,” while Jonathan Culler and his structuralist poetics posse cackled in agreement. Pope was just shaking his head from deep with The Dunciad, while W. K. Wimsatt was intentionally groaning over such a modern-day fallacy of an argument.

Remnick tried to mount a further defense, that those who find the Obama/Osama cover offensive simply don’t speak the rarified language of New Yorkerese.

“The idea that we would publish a cover saying these things literally, [‘Obama's supposed "lack of patriotism" or his being "soft on terrorism" or the idiotic notion that somehow Michelle Obama is the second coming of the Weathermen or most violent Black Panthers’] I think, is just not in the vocabulary of what we do and who we are...

So now it’s a question of vocabulary. And I thought it was about the crassness of showing a portrait of the man behind 9/11 in the White House over the mantle.

I like satire as much as the next guy, and irony even more.

But this is a difficult time for the country, and this election will seal our fate for years to come. It is beyond smug for a bunch of New Yorkers to play so flippantly with the culture war, to show a serious presidential candidate burning a flag in the oval office just because they think it’s absurd that some people may believe that.

The only way to correct this gross error in judgment is for David Reminck to have a mass recall of the issue and to sit and eat every one of the covers. A little jam, a little clotted cream, and he will get off more easily than he deserves. I tore the cover off my copy. He can start with that.


dorki said...

Over the years I have met and dealt with many New Yorkers, both the city and the state of. Almost all of them were smart, hard-working, and fair in their views and treatment of others.

For such an illustration to be published took the utmost in arrogance, lack of sensitivity to these tense times in our nation, and (in my opinion) outright bigotry. This is as close to visual hate-speech that I have seen since the 1940's.

kathleenmaher said...

If The New Yorker felt in desperate need of attention, this worked--for them. I'm with you, M.A. The country doesn't need this now. And if The New Yorker wants a bigger profile, its arms are long enough to reach for it rather than scrape.