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Hello, here’s this week’s New Yorker cover:

An extension of pound-gate (please don’t call it a fist-bump), secretly-muslim-gate, Osama-Obama-ethnic-names-all-sound-alike-gate, and patriotism-gate, all boiled into one illustration. Tasteless? Cowardly? Sure, maybe. I see what Barry Blitt was trying to do with “The Politics of Fear” — take a swipe at the outrageous smears and apprehensions carried by those who oppose the presidential hopeful. I don’t want to argue over how appropriate or inappropriate his attempt is. That was yesterday.

What I want to talk about is Michelle Obama’s hair. Everything else in the illustration — the garb, the burning flag, the bin Laden portrait over the mantle — have their root in some public scandal or Fox News special. But unless Bill O’Reilly started a rumor somewhere about her wearing a wig (made from the threads of Rachel Ray’s kaffiyah), I haven’t heard a thing in mainstream media about her hair.

Her hair, typically styled in a relaxed bob, is up and out here in a full, thick afro. Or, as Brian Lehrer just called it on WNYC, “Angela Davis hair!”

Is this the appropriate way to wear one’s hair while carrying an AK? Is this terrorist hair, befitting a terrorist wife? Is this really scary? Is this really 2008? Blitt made a decision at some point that the straightened, Jackie O bob was not interesting enough for his illustration, and that it didn’t fit his message. I wonder if there’s an early draft somewhere of her wearing a hijab.


  1. Yvette Yvette July 17, 2008

    HA! It’s a “political hairstyle” (if you didn’t know your hair could make a political statement, read this).
    The media tries paint Michelle as an angry black woman so, in alluding to those references, an afro is a fitting coiffure. Maybe a more accurate choice would have been a “scarf over a doobie” (c) Jay-Z, but I don’t think BB is familiar with that style.

  2. Yvette Yvette July 17, 2008

    Also, I think the cartoon is a bit incomplete. He should have finished it off with a red, black and green wristband and Afro pick with the fist. I mean, I have them if he needs reference items…

  3. afton afton July 23, 2008

    clearly u must have forgotten how many of ur homegirls rick ‘fros AND carry AK47s. myself included, minue the weaponry. black hair is ALWAYS a political statement, whether it’s locs or a caesar, relaxed or in twists. ALWAYS.

  4. JJ JJ July 26, 2008

    I personally loved the cartoon.
    Not for a front cover though… There are too many stupid people in the world to risk them seeing it in passing on a news stand.

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