Monday, August 20, 2012

Does Newsweek's new Obama cover contain racial slur?

Posted by Chris Haire on Mon, Aug 20, 2012 at 2:12 PM

Tina Brown is no stranger to controversy, especially when it comes to her tenure at Newsweek. Since Brown took over as the editor-in-chief of the newsweekly, she has managed to put out one much-slagged cover after another.

There was Newsweek's disastrous Michele Bachmann "Queen of Rage" cover, the one that managed to make the Minnesota Congresswoman look like a cross between Steve Carell on "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" poster, a bull shark, and a bath-salt zombie.

And then there was the grossly misguided Princess Diana "Diana at 50" cover, which featured a living-dead Di gal-paling with perky little Kate Middleton that delighted fans of Royal Family slash fiction and angered pretty much everybody else.

After that, there was the "The First Gay President" cover, an epic bit of Red State troll baiting, depicting Barack Obama with a rainbow halo.

But this time, Tina Brown has gone too far.

She's up and dropped a racial slur on the cover. And if that wasn't bad enough, the cover features President Barack Obama.

Judge for yourself.


You see it, right?

I'm mean, it's right there. See the way Obama's head splits the Newsweek masthead.

The thing is I can't decide if it says "N-Week" or "Neek."

But even more perplexing, I can't decide if any of those things actually mean anything derogatory or if it's just a shoddy cover. I mean, if the folks at Newsweek meant the masthead to say "N-Week," was this their way of trying to use the N-word without using the N-word, you know, by breaking it down to a single letter?

And if they meant for it to say "Neek," is that like some kind of new racial slur for black folks? I don't know about you, but "neek" seems like a far more likely candidate to be a racial epithet than Monday. Just say "neek" out loud and you'll see what I mean.

Honestly, when it comes to President Obama, racial attacks abound, some in-your-face and others only partially hidden.

We've had anti-Obama bumperstickers that say "Don't Re-Nig in 2012" and images of Barack in S&M wear eating fried chicken and strange examples of reverse blackface-ism featuring the president as the Joker.

And then we've got professional politicians, dropping code words for the racist segment of the population.

First there was Newt Gingrich, who loved calling Obama a "food-stamp president" and accused the commander in chief of being a "Kenyan anti-colonialist," and now we have Mitt Romney saying that Obama was trafficking in the politics of "division and anger and hate," a statement that led MSNBC host Touré to proclaim that the GOP presidential candidate was engaging in the "niggerization of the campaign."

On last Thursday's The Cycle, Touré said:

“That really bothered me. You notice he said anger twice. He’s really trying to use racial coding and access some really deep stereotypes about the angry black man. This is part of the playbook against Obama, the ‘otherization,’ he’s not like us.

“I know it’s a heavy thing, I don’t say it lightly, but this is ‘niggerization. You are not one of us, you are like the scary black man who we’ve been trained to fear.”

I agree. In America, politicians, right-wing media types, and law enforcement officials have long since stoked racial fears among the white population by portraying the black male as a violent predator who has a nearly innate desire to prey upon his lily-white neighbors. These race baiters love nothing more than to insinuate that black men are savage-like animals full of rage and hate. Make no mistake, Romney knows full well what he is doing and exactly who he is trying to court. The Republican Party of today was built on this very thing. The Southern Strategy never ended. It still goes on.

As for Tina Brown and the gang at Newsweek, I'm sure there was no ill intent here. Just a happy accident.

At least for anyone looking to inject a little more racial controversy into the 2012 presidential campaign.

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