GOP Figures used racist Ape imagery for Obama before North Korea did

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment)–

North Korea lashed out at President Barack Obama on Saturday, blaming him for the Sony film, “The Interview,” and for the North Korean internet outage, adding “”Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest..” Given the long history of racist associations of African-Americans with animal primates, it seems indisputable that this metaphor was meant as a racist slur.

North Korea, however, was simply treading a path that was already well worn by some prominent American GOP voices.

Former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld said just last spring that “a trained ape” could do Obama’s job better than he does.

Glenn Beck said in 2010,

” “Special interest! What planet have I landed on? Did I slip through a wormhole in the middle of the night and this looks like America? It’s like the damn ‘Planet of the Apes.’ Nothing makes sense! The guy who’s helped destroy all these pensions, Andy Stern, is now on the financial oversight committee. Is this who we want to take advice from?

“The unions who have collapsed all of the businesses, who have collapsed all of their pensions, they are bankrupting everything they touch, and we go to them and we say, yes, tell me, what should we do? It’s like any marital tips from Tiger Woods.”

There isn’t very much doubt, especially given the further reference to Tiger Woods as a philanderer (with white women) that the Planet of the Apes crack was a piece of race-baiting.

In spring of 2011 a senior GOP official from Orange County, Ca., sent around by email with a picture attached of Obama as monkey.

In 2012 a GOP official sat silently as the radio host interviewing him called president Obama a monkey. The Republican politician called support for Obama “a national sickness.”

Depicting African-Americans as apes or monkeys has a long history in the USA. It leads to discrimination.

So the path for the paranoid and oppressive North Korea regime to demean the head of state of the USA was paved by some prominent Republicans.


Related video:

Arirang News: “N. Korea blames U.S. for Internet shutdown, insults Obama”

8 Responses

  1. This is the nature of oppressive and supremacist mentality and needs no path paving. I have heard this from Europeans Buddhists to Iranian Islamic authorities referring to blacks as monkeys.

  2. President Obama must be sooooo hurt by all this. When he leaves office he will “cry all the way to the bank”, in the deathless words of Liberace.

    • Well that’s the nature of US democracy. Spend millions of dollars to get elected, then get paid millions of dollars afterwards. Of course, in a deeply racist society like the US, this president will get much less of the latter.

      And I think he probably would be hurt to still be facing racism in the 21st century in a supposedly civilised country.

  3. I have a pretty clear recollection of war propaganda material left over from WW II that my Dad had saved,
    depicting “Nips” as monkeys.
    The Japanese, in turn, did not appear to show respect for the humanity of the many peoples they conquered in the 20th Century, including the grandparents of people living in North Korea today. Japanese soldiers referred to the occupied as being sub-human and animals, though generally calling them species less advanced than primates.
    The Nazis seemed to think they were a super race, so that everyone else was less human than them.

    Dr. Cole,
    this referring to others as subhuman has been going on for a long time.

    And the fact that you had to stretch so far to find GOP bad guys to tie this to, maybe that suggests the link is weak.
    As for your cites,
    Rumsfeld was saying the Prez was LESS than a monkey.
    Beck was attacking Stern, not the Prez.
    The County official in Cali, that’s a solid example.

    There’s enough real racism in the world that you don’t need to make any up.

    • It matters when all America’s supposedly autonomous far-right movements share the slogan, “America is a republic, not a democracy.” Which really means that voting rights should be restricted to those who would have been able to vote under the Founding Fathers. “Take back our country”, “we surround you”, support for racial profiling and special rights for right-wing Christians, and the blatant difference in how a white man with a gun is regarded versus a black man, all are part of a larger doctrine: God gave white Christian men this country by a patriarchal covenant, to rule over others forever. We are not equal citizens.

      The GOP is inexorably moving in this direction because that is where its voters are going; that was always the plan. Israel is a testbed that’s a couple of steps ahead in this process.

  4. The enemy within was a theme promoted during the McCarthy witch hunt era. In a different context and in a new era, people who believe the essence of America consists of all people being equal with a right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and justice have many enemies within.

  5. That racist trash-talk started back in 2008. Let’s not forget the Republican who attended a McCain/Palin rally in Pennsylvania carrying a sock monkey with an Obama sticker pasted to its forehead.
    link to

  6. Weak attempts at again aligning every Republican as racist and disrespectful. The author gives “examples” twisted to fit. Furthermore, Glenn Becks comments were not at all geared towards President Obama, but towards Mr. Stern. This country is seeing the rise of a new McCarthyism wrapped in the form of racism. There are enough real issues in our country without creating them.

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