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New York governor, NAACP condemn magazine cover


CINCINNATI — New York Gov. David Paterson and the NAACP last Thursday condemned the New Yorker magazine’s satirical cover depicting Democrat Barack Obama and his wife as flag-burning radicals.

Paterson, a Democrat who is New York’s first black governor, told delegates at the civil rights organization’s national convention that the cover that hit newsstands last Monday is “one of the most malignant, vicious covers of a magazine I have ever seen,” drawing loud applause.

“It depicted them as angry, hateful, violent and unpatriotic,” Paterson added.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People released a resolution that calls the cover “tasteless, Islam-a-phobic, mean-spirited and racially offensive.” It calls on other Americans who are offended by the cover to contact the magazine about their concerns.

The cover depicts Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president if elected in November, in traditional Muslim clothing. It shows his wife, Michelle, with an assault rifle slung over one shoulder, dressed in camouflage and combat boots, with her hair in an Afro. The cover shows them bumping fists as an American flag burns in a fireplace behind them and a portrait of Osama bin Laden hangs above the mantel.

The magazine has said satire is part of what it does “to hold up a mirror to prejudice, the hateful, and the absurd. And that’s the spirit of this cover.”

New Yorker editor David Remnick told the Huffington Post Web site that the cover was chosen because it had something to say.

In comments after his speech, Paterson said that no matter what reason the magazine gives for the cover, it was hurtful.

“The reality is that it hurts people, they knew it would hurt people; it was designed to do that and also to feed the prurient interest of bigoted, prejudiced people in this society,” Paterson said.

Obama said last Tuesday that the cover doesn’t bother him but that it was an insult to Muslim Americans. Obama is a Christian, but has long fought rumors that he is secretly a Muslim.

Republican presidential hopeful John McCain has called the cover “totally inappropriate” and said he would understand if Obama and his supporters find it offensive.

NAACP spokesman Richard McIntire said last Thursday that the group wants the New Yorker to understand and hear from all Americans that the cover was inappropriate.

“This is a call to all like-minded individuals — those who believe in justice and fairness — that this type of attack has to stop,” McIntire said.

Paterson, who spoke on the closing day of the convention, was there partly to put out an early welcome mat for NAACP delegates, who will hold their 100th convention in New York City in 2009.

Paterson spoke of the NAACP’s struggles through the years for equality and justice. He also asked whether America can “reject the crucible of race that has dictated and pervaded all of our history to embrace an African American man” as U.S. president.

“We will find out in the next few months what America can do,” said Paterson, drawing more cheers and applause.

(Associated Press)