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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.”