Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Of Guns, Monkeys and Letters

Below is a letter to the editor I wrote to the New York Post today. I've been getting emails all day from friends about a cartoon by Sean Delonas in today's NY Post linking the recent killing of a pet Chimpanzee with the "writer of the stimulus bill." Any follower of History or someone with social sensitivity can see in the image too many disturbing references to violence and racial undertones. Anyway a lot of people have written to the editors over this. I won't recreate the picture, but if you do find it and want to write a letter yourself, send it to:

Dear Editor,

The cartoon where an artist connected the shooting of a troubled monkey with the economic stimulus plan, and specifically to the author of that plan (most commonly being attributed to Pres. Obama) is callous humor at best, violence inciting racism at worst, and a poor reflection of your newspaper, company, and management.

In a country where violence towards our political leaders is a common occurrence in our history (hopefully Lincoln's 200th birthday reminded us of that) , and where there has been a dehumanizing tradition of racist cartoonists making connections between African Americans and primates, I find it glaring that you would publish a cartoon which reflects both these shameful attributes.

It is bad enough that our President must endure the extra measures of security because of his race, and because of the times we live in. We do not need newspapers bringing up violent imagery in connection to our political leaders.

That being said, I understand the 1st amendment allows cartoonists to reflect their views via their art. But the 1st amendment does not force editors to publish such submissions.

Therefore it is more a reflection of the flaws in your decision making abilities that such a cartoon graced your pages and website.

Your cartoonist should apologize to the people and more specifically to the "writer of the stimulus package." Your editorial staff should also apologize for allowing this image to enter our common discourse.

Remove this stain from your paper and company.

Respectfully Submitted,
Miguel Guadalupe
New Jersey

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Plumber is dead, long live the Pilot

On the day Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III is to receive the keys to New York City, I think it appropriate to note that while His daring actions saved 155 people, one person was indeed left at the bottom of the Hudson river.

Well, not a person exactly, but an icon, horrifically thrust on the American stage by a desperate presidential campaign in its last throes. That icon now in a watery grave is “Joe the Plumber.” Yes that’s right. Sully killed Joe the plumber. The citizen who challenged Obama on a campaign stop name Joe, who isn’t really named Joe (it’s Samel), who said he was a plumber but really wasn’t (no license), who was going to buy a business but had neither the means, skills, nor opportunity to do so. “Joe” relished his position in the spotlight, so much so that he still clings to whatever will get him in front of a camera, from “reporting” in Gaza to showing up at Republican strategy meetings (really?).

This man, who offered nothing but his claim of being average, with no real skills or training, but with a willingness to be exploited for the sake of ratings and campaigns, was being presented as some sort of nightmarish symbolism for America. This image of mediocrity was somehow supposed to inspire some mythical “base” of people to a point where they would vote against their economic interests in favor a party who’s lead them astray. We all know the outcome of that gamble.

Thankfully, with a new year, a new image emerges to kill the era of “the plumber” and lift American iconography from the sewer to the sky. This all came about as a seasoned commercial pilot and his crew do the miraculous – land a plane full of passengers without engines, power, or even land. At the center of this is Captain Sullenberger, AKA “Sully the Pilot.” With over 30 years flight experience, safety expertise (he even coauthored papers with NASA), additional skills as a glider (which is what saved that plane), and a focus and professionalism that kept him in control during the most uncontrollable of situations, He represents everything Joe the Plumber does not; skill, education, focus, altruism, professionalism, and true leadership in crisis. He showed additional merit by taking a slow approach to addressing the throngs of media, of doing his job first, and of spreading credit to his passengers and crew members.

America has a new love. The reluctant hero is the ultimate icon, a man doing his job well under special circumstances resulting in extraordinary success, and avoiding unspeakable tragedy (unless you count the geese). But more than anything, this would not have been possible without his training, education, and his striving to be more than “just average.” That is the image that America needs, and the image that best represents our future.

Thank you “Captain Sully,” and long live the Pilot.