A Belgian newspaper came under fire after posting racially insensitive images of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in a failed attempt at satirical humor over the weekend. The newspaper has since apologized, stating they made an error in judgment.
The fervor around the photo began in social media as users on Reddit and Twitter posted the image posted in the De Morgen newspaper’s satirical section, The Daily Herald. In the photo, The Obamas are depicted to look like chimpanzees with a caption fashioned to appear as if Russian President Vladimir Putin sent it in to the paper to publish.
“Vladimir Putin is the president of Russia. He sent us this attachment at our request, and chose to send pictures instead of text ‘because he doesn’t have a lot of time’,” read the translated caption. There are other faked tweets from Obama, along with a photo of the president claiming he sells marijuana.
In the English version of Belgian’s Flanders News, the apology from De Morgen was translated and shared. More from Flanders News:
“[W]hen you consider the fragment apart from its context, which is a properly worked out satirical section, then you don’t see the joke but just a picture evoking sheer racism. That was a risk we didn’t consider enough beforehand”, the statement goes.
“We wrongly assumed that racism is no longer accepted, and that in this way it could be the subject of a joke”, De Morgen continues. The editors say that overlooked the fact that in the United States, the comparison between blacks and monkeys is still something that pops up regularly today.
Despite De Morgen‘s reputation as an anti-racist, left-wing daily publication, it boggles the mind to see the editorial staff make such a glaring oversight. To be fair, De Morgen has drawn former president George W. Bush as an ape in times past without any of the reaction of this latest photo.
President Obama will be visiting Belgium this Tuesday.
Hit the jump to see the full-size image.
Photo: De Morgen