Daily Kos Cartoonist: Obama Racism Charges are ‘Squishy Liberals’ Being Politically Correct

Daily Kos Cartoonist: Obama Racism Charges are 'Squishy Liberals' Being Politically Correct

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Ted Rall tells TheWrap he did not depict the president as “ape-like”

Cartoonist Ted Rall is fuming after administrators at the liberal website Daily Kos accused him of depicting President Barack Obama in a racist manner and threatened to revoke his posting privileges.

“It's the height of arrogance and authoritarianism to ask me to change the way that I depict the president,” Rall tells TheWrap. “I've been doing this since 1987 and I've earned the right to not be branded a racist. If you're going to take issue with the way I draw the president, fine. If you're going to call me a racist, fuck you.”

Rall's work is syndicated in over 100 newspapers nationally, but he was unpaid for his contributions to Daily Kos. He said that he posted his work in order to generate attention for his strips and to attract an audience to his blog.

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Daily Kos did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in a message from the website's administrators that Rall posted, the cartoonist was told that he drew the president in an ape-like manner.

tedrall“Through British and American history, blacks have been subjected to racist depictions of themselves as monkeys and apes,” the message reads. “No excuse is acceptable for replicating that history.”

Rall said he has been drawing the president since 2006, but settled on a way of caricaturing him in 2009 when he won the White House. He said he has a very simple drawing style and that certain facial features in his version of Obama, such as the president's outsize nose, have turned up on white characters.

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“My Obama has only been seen in several thousand comic strips in hundreds of newspapers, so I guess the two thousandth is the charm,” Rall joked. “They've unmasked my careful campaign of racism.”

Rall objected to what he termed a “seventh grade history lesson” on racism inherent in Daily Kos’ message and said he felt that the site was suffering from political correctness run amok.

“It's not a left thing,” Rall said. “It's a squishy liberal thing and it's not an accusation that should be tossed around lightly. It can really tarnish you and it's fucking unfair.”

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Rall has been fiercely critical of Obama's policies, but his criticism comes from the progressive end of the political spectrum. In the cartoon in question, Rall lampoons the president for not honoring his promise to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan by 2014.

“I tend to draw guys ugly,” Rall said. “It's how I drew Bush.”

“I don't do it to demean Obama personally,” Rall said. “I don't give a shit that Obama's black. My criticism is motivated from the policy. I consider him a right winger. In my analysis, most of the people on the right who criticize him are motivated by racism, because I don't see what they would dislike about his policies. He's a political conservative.”

  • Marc Abian

    Glenn Greenwald is a Racist? Ted Rall is a racist? Gaza strip was gettin’ bombed and Markos didn't say $h1t.

  • k_e_stewart

    OMG. He's (RALL) denying the obvious. How about drawing Caucasions as Neanderthals with suits on? If RALL thinks he's beeing cute and clever he can just keep on RALLING.

    • mattlove1

      Daily Kos deliberately portrayed bush as a chimp for years, nobody objects or even notices, in somebody's feverish imagination Rall's Obama looks like one, and we're all supposed to buy he's denying the obvious, and ignore the evidence our own senses provide? Well, that is the authoritarian mindset in action right there – “believe me. don't believe yourself.” No, this one is eassy. I'll keep affirming the obvious. Rall and his cartoons are not racist.

      • RealRegularGuy

        But, it's OK if its mocking a white Republican. Seriously, that's their answer with a straight face- that being white is privileged and therefore not subject to the same standard. It's a messed up.

        • notjohnhubinrt

          It's not equivalent to compare depictions of Bush as a chimp with those of Obama as an ape, though. Privilege isn't the issue – Bush was mocked because of his clumsy manner and seeming lack of intelligence as perceived by his critics (agree with them or not). To compare Obama to an ape based on his race alone is not only not not equivalent, it belongs to a long, horrible tradition in which black people are literally thought of as sub-human. Is that the comparison Rall was trying to make? Probably not, but looking at his cartoon I can see why his critics might be made uncomfortable, and rather than leaping to vicious self-defense he could admit that he might be wrong for once in his life. All that being said, I wouldn't be too surprised if the DailyKos was more concerned with keeping criticism of Obama to a minimum than with the racial sensitivities of its audience, but who knows.

          • derlehrer

            “To compare Obama to an ape based on his race alone….”? That is quite judgmental and reveals more about yourself and your biases that about those of Rall. It reminds me of “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” You see racism because you want to see racism, not because it exists.

          • notjohnhubinrt

            I never said Rall held those biases, in fact I said he probably didn't. I was responding to the comparison up-thread of depicting Bush as a chimp vs. Obama as an ape, and pointing out that they're not at all equivalent.

          • derlehrer

            In that case I probably should apologize for my misinterpretation of your post. As a retired English educator, I tend to read statements in context and interpret them accordingly. The quotation from your post included in my previous one, taken together with “… rather than leaping to vicious self-defense he could admit that he might be wrong for once in his life” certainly gave the impression that you accepted the “ape-like” comparison as valid and was “… based on his race alone.”

  • derlehrer

    All I can say is: If you've followed Ted Rall's work more than a week or two, you would know that this is not a racist depiction. Ted draws ALL his characters “ugly”! Now, if he drew Obama with the knuckles of one hand dragging the ground, holding a banana in the other – THAT would be racist!

    • BCB

      So what's the issue here? I think it's this: the cartoonist can call conservatives racist but all hell breaks lose when he is called a racist: How dare people insinuate that I am racist; it's those conservatives that are racist. Does he not understand that the same standard leveled against him; he leveled against conservatives. And so he obviously is not a racist but he is the very definition of hypocrisy.

      • derlehrer

        In your simplistic mind, you are of course correct. The most sensible part of your post is: “So what's the issue here?” It indicates that you don't have the foggiest idea. Rall has drawn U.S. Presidents in much the same manner since he started drawing. Show us an example of what you mean. Were he to have drawn Obama in any other manner, it would have been a surrender of his artistic expertise. People who see “ape-like” in his depiction of Obama haven't been paying attention and have sublimated their own prejudices to accuse him, since he's been doing the same caricature for years – directed at other Presidents as well. Only when Daily Kos got a submission did it become an issue: an over-reaction to his style of expression. I've seen, however, that tomorrow starts a new era of drawing Obama. I'm on pins and needles.

  • Kendon Smith

    yes, the represented american left are squishy knee jerky about Obama. This doesnt mean that Obama hasnt been the subject of racist attacks. As a black man, I am burnt out on what is often being identified as ‘racist'. Daily Kos playing that card is more fodder for the flames.

  • Petey Bee

    I agree with Ted. He has consistently drawn all presidents this way thoughout the years. The Kos website, that banned him, are supporters of the establishment Democrats, and must be particularly hurt by the subject of the comic strip* if they resort to this.

    *specifically that, regardless of race, Obama's statements and policies are exatly those of: (a) just another dishonest politician, and (b) same policies as Bush. This must really hurt, but it is a truth one needs to face, if we want take the big step from hope to positive change.

    Now I understand there is a certain amount of denial at the Kos website. I recently saw an article claiming that the Obama and the Democrat establishment's plan all along was to make the implementation of the ACA purposely crappy, so that states (like Vermont) had no choice but to implement single payer health care. See, Obama had a secret plan to get us single payer. Now I'm pretty much a socialist, so I want single payer, but Wow! Talk about delusional… That's like saying Bush made the Iraq war purposely crappy so that we would learn how to make peace… So all right, the Kos editorial crowd don't have their thinking caps on all the time. Still doesn't excuse their actions.

    Race is a touchy subject. It has really screwed up the US, and so as a matter of healing and setting wrongs right (at least a little), I was very happy to see Obama get elected, just as I was actually very pleasantly surprised to see Bush hire Colin Powell and Condi Rice for top positions. The fact that the were playing for the “wrong team” did not diminish in the least from this positive angle.

    Same with Obama. It's time we admit that he too, has been playing for the wrong team (assuming not a right winger). That's all there is to it in my opinion.

    Now if someone has never ever seen Rall's work, and this is the first strip they ever see, I could see how they might raise an eyebrow or two. But in the case of Kos, they have seen his work for a long time, going back to Bush, and have obviously been aware of his draw-politicians-as-ugly-as-possible style, so this is pretty plain evidence of a politically motivated smear job, of the worst kind by the way, since it is like crying wolf a little bit and hurts genuine efforts at continuing to fix real damage racism has done to the US.

  • Ms Buzzkill

    Ted Rall by Ted Rall…..just sayin’

  • Timbo-san

    People's perceptions of their respective worlds tend to borrow from their own pre-conceived notions of how they operate in their own spheres of influence. Hence the raising of cackles over at the Daily Kos, I'd imagine. Although, I must be honest…I don't recall ever partaking of the site.

    Hell's bells, I'm not quite sure how I trudged over here.

  • BCB

    The problem here is that the cartoonist can call conservatives racist but all hell breaks lose when he is called a racist: How dare people insinuate that I am racist; it's those conservatives that are racist. Does he not understand that the same standard leveled against him; he leveled against conservatives. And so he obviously is not a racist but he is the very definition of hypocrisy.

  • Guest

    The chicken come home to roost…
    The left started the Politically Correct stink-bomb in order to intimidate their opponents….
    Now they find out that the PC bs can be used against THEM.
    Cry me a river….
    Kill PC. It is worse than cancer.
    It kills free speech.

  • DC is Evil

    One thing is certain — a chimp could likely do a better job than Obama, and certainly would lie less often.

  • Smith_90125

    Pride goeth before the Rall. He has always had an inflated opinion of himself.

    Ego is like a balloon: the bigger it gets, the louder the explosion when someone pokes a hole in it. Rall's overreaction is indicative of that.

  • louis

    it's a racist cartoon. and if the cartoonist can't realize it's racist, he is deceiving himself. though i do agree with him in that i consider obama a conservative and i feel that obama deceived the nation. and if there were an actual candidate other than that of the creepy plutocrat mitt romney and his ilk, i would have voted for one of them instead of obama. perhaps rall should have drawn obama as a snake.