When the University of New Mexico student newspaper The Daily Lobo ran a cartoon depicting Barack Obama in a "Lion King" pose, the editor didn't think anything of it. That is until black students on campus immediately became enraged and staged a protest. That's because, they said, the picture compared Obama to a monkey.
The picture was a variation of the classic scene in the Disney cartoon where the baboon Rafiki holds up the young lion, Simba. In the Lobo's picture, Simba is played by the head of Osama, while Rafiki is played by Obama:
“This is a continual use of racial propaganda,” black student Christina Foster said at a protest. “… And I stand here today to tell you that is not what we’re going to stand for. This racial propaganda was used to justify the use of slavery and to keep the institution of slavery alive in this nation.”
When the picture first ran on Tuesday, the paper's Editor-in-Chief Chris Quintana said he couldn't understand why some students were upset:
However, by Thursday he changed his opinion, apologizing for the cartoon but defending the paper.
"The political cartoon alluded to a memorable scene from the Disney movie, 'The Lion King,' in which Rafiki announces Simba’s birth," he writes in an editorial in the paper. "Except in this case, President Barack Obama was cast as Rafiki, and in place of Simba was Osama bin Laden’s severed head. Regrettably, this cartoon offended the African-American community — along with many others — who interpreted Obama’s representation as racist. For this oversight, I sincerely apologize."
What does that remedy look like? "Furthermore, the Daily Lobo is in talks concerning sensitivity training for the staff with African-American groups on campus."
Still, Quintana contends that the paper has been open to the black community. Not only has it encouraged minority contributors, but in the past it worked worth organizations to educate reporters on "cultural sensitivity."
"Unfortunately, no one from African American Student Services showed up," he said.
Additionally, he claimed the picture was actually referring to a joke the president himself made at last weekend's correspondence dinner:
He also explained that the cartoon artist is from the Netherlands, "and is not necessarily attuned to the racial undertones of such a depiction of Obama in America."
I guess the question now is: Will Muslims worldwide retaliate for the cartoon?
What do you think?