Have Americans lost their sense of humor?
As Leonard Pitts points out in his latest column, satire is tricky. If people take you seriously, things get ugly. That's what has happened with the Obama cover. However, if people take you seriously when it's something as over the top as this, they start looking ridiculous.
It's obvious that this cover is meant as satire. It's so over-the-top that I should be surprised that anyone is taking it seriously. Does anyone really think that the artist is trying to say that Obama is a Muslim and his wife is a terrorist? Especially after that news commentator (wasn't she on Fox News?) who wondered, on the air, whether Obama fist-bumping his wife was a "terrorist fist jab"? The artist is obviously poking fun at all the people who think that this is what an Obama presidency would look like - Barack and Michelle cackling in the Oval Office while burning the flag under a picture of Osama bin Laden. That's the problem with satire in today's world - there are FAR too many people who believe this is exactly what will happen when Obama wins.
That's the problem with satire. People for centuries have failed to "get it" - as Pitts points out when he mentions that people in 1729 took Jonathan Swift seriously when he suggested that starving people should eat babies - but these days, with the proliferation of media outlets and voices from the fringe being taken seriously, it's harder for people to see when someone is poking fun at the conceits. I heard recently that my pal Michael Savage thinks an Obama presidency would lead to a sort of "Cultural Revolution" ... and he was totally serious. I imagine Savage looked at this cover and said, "Yeah, that seems about right." Pitts even mentions that he has gotten e-mails from people expressing this sentiment. The wackos on the fringe have a voice, and unfortunately, it's often louder than those people who aren't crazy. Not crazy people have things to do in this world, like go to real jobs, raise real families, and worry about whether they can make the mortgage payment. The wackos who live in bunkers and whose only expense is an Internet connection don't have to worry about that sort of thing. They can spend all day ranting about how Barack Obama signalled to his Muslim brethren that America is ripe for the picking when he tapped fists with his wife.
What's sad is that these wackos force Obama and McCain to take this seriously. As Jon Stewart pointed out the other day, "Barack Obama is in no way be upset about the cartoon that depicts him as a Muslim extremist, because you know who gets upset about cartoons? Muslim extremists."
I understand that things are offensive, and that no one but the person offended can say that it's wrong. However, this isn't a shot at Obama and his wife, and they have to know that. It's sad that in America today, we have lost any sense of irony and sense of humor that people are up in arms about this. Wouldn't it be nice if people understood what is going on here?