Gunplay and the Presidency


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“Recently the New York Post published a cartoon of two policemen who have slain the author of the stimulus package — a chimpanzee who lies in a pool of blood. The paper’s defense was just good-hearted fun, no harm intended to the African American President who devised and signed the package.
Perhaps a better defense for this tabloid owned by the Murdock media empire would be to hide behind its record of both insensitivity, and suggested violence, toward to people of color….”

Author: William Loren Katz, author of 40 U.S. history books, and affiliated with New York University
Published in: Monroe Evening News in Monroe, Michigan and at Headliner News from Ozark, Missouri at http://ccheadliner.com/
Date: February 21 and 25, 2009

For the full article:
Gunplay and the Presidency
(390 words)
by William Loren Katz

Recently the New York Post published a cartoon of two policemen who have slain the author of the stimulus package — a chimpanzee who lies in a pool of blood. The paper’s defense was just good-hearted fun, no harm intended to the African American President who devised and signed the package.
Perhaps a better defense for this tabloid owned by the Murdock media empire would be to hide behind its record of both insensitivity, and suggested violence, toward to people of color.
During the Democratic primaries in late May 2008 Murdock’s Fox TV News also aimed assassination humor at candidate Obama. As co-anchor Liz Trotta signed off her “Fair and Balanced” Sunday news broadcast she urged that “somebody knock off Osama, um, Obama – well both, if we could.” [New York Times, May 27, 2008, 20A] So much for good night and good luck.
By this time in the campaign Republican rallies were attracting people who greeted Obama’s name with shouts of “traitor” and “kill him.”
The past warns us that threats of violence against presidents are serious matters. Gunmen have taken the lives of four U.S. presidents: Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan narrowly escaped assassination attempts. Candidate Robert Kennedy was slain, and candidate George Wallace was severely wounded.
With a black president gunplay humor is hardly funny. After the Civil War, dozens of African American office-holders in the South, along with their white political allies, were slain, beaten or driven from office by Ku Klux Klan nightriders. A dozen years after Emancipation massive intimidation and murder had nullified the civil rights laws enacted by Congress and eviscerated three Constitutional Amendments designed to protect the lives and liberties of former slaves. In the middle of the 20th century, murders of white and African American civil rights workers in the South aimed to block those marching toward justice, equality and voting rights. If we factor in lynching, violent opposition to African Americans’ pursuit of either public office or other citizenship rights has left a body count in the thousands. Talk about acts of terrorism against Americans!
President Obama has warned us against continuing childish ways. Murdock’s media empire should curb its immature inclinations. They are too dangerous for a democracy.

William Loren Katz, the author of 40 U.S. history books, is affiliated with New York University and his website is www.williamlkatz.com.