There's quite a little firestorm that's been unleashed over The New Yorker magazine's cover illustration on the issue dated July 21, which depicts Barack Obama and his wife as though they are the insidious America-haters that some have ridiculously made them out to be.
I've been reading The New Yorker for 25 years. There are many wonderful periodicals and I try to read interesting stories from wherever I can online, but The New Yorker is the only one that I subscribe to and have for years. The writing is exceptional and the wit is brilliant. This particular cover, said Art Spiegelman -- a former New Yorker cartoonist himself who was commenting on an NPR broadcast this afternoon -- holds a mirror up to some of the rumors that are floating around out there so that we can see how outrageous they are. He's right.
There are some who worry that such a depiction may hurt Obama in the presidential campaign because some voters may believe that he and his wife want to destroy the country from the inside (as if that hasn't been happening for the past seven years anyway), but that is not The New Yorker's problem. We cannot and should not declare humor, satire and irony off limits because some Americans don't get it, and I am glad that The New Yorker felt no obligation to hold its tongue -- even though most of the readership is college-educated with incomes above $40,000, a group that is backing Obama big time.
If nothing else, the cover has initiated a discussion that shouldn't be shied away from: the right is trying to destroy Obama's candidacy with wild, baseless rumor and innuendo that should not be allowed to fester. I still believe, as a critic once wrote, that The New Yorker is "the best magazine in the world."