University of New Mexico African-American students are demanded and received an apology from the student paper, The Daily Lobo, after it ran a cartoon depicting the scene from The Lion King where the monkey Rafiki holds up the young Simba lion cub, but in the drawing President Barak Obama was the Rafiki character holding Osama Bin Laden’s head.
The editor took responsibility for the outrage and took steps to remedy it, including issuing the apology and vowing to have staff attend African-American Student Services and go through sensitivity training.
Along with the apology, the editor offered information on why the cartoon was printed in the first place.
Third, we must make it clear that we did not run the cartoon with the intent to be racist. We saw the cartoon as an interpretation of Osama bin Laden’s death and the American celebration along with it. We saw the cartoon as a symbol of the twisted nature of American pride and thought it would provoke interesting, not racist, discussion. Since we can only speculate as to the intent of the cartoon, I contacted the artist, Hajo de Reijer.
“It wasn’t my intention to be racist. And it will never be,” he said. “U.S. President Barack Obama tweaked Donald Trump at the annual White House correspondents’ dinner over the fuss he made over his place of birth. Obama showed the opening scene from the movie ‘Lion King,’ showing baby Simba being born to his Lion King father.”
De Reijer said his cartoon was simply a reflection of a current event. In full disclosure, De Reijer is from the Netherlands and is not necessarily attuned to the racial undertones of such a depiction of Obama in America.
We bring this up not to justify the cartoon’s content, but to try to foster understanding of our editorial decision to run it.
Here’s a news report from KOBTV.