The trouble with a bad joke is that it has to be explained. In the case of The New Yorker’s recent Barack Obama cartoon cover, the people at whom the satire was directed — those who hang on to notions that Obama is a Muslim, unpatriotic and a flag burner — are unlikely to read The New Yorker in any case. These misguided folks and others don’t realize that the satire was directed at them and not at the Obamas. Even Obama himself thought it was offensive and didn’t get it when he should have just simply laughed it off.
All that silly business about Obama’s lack of lapel flag pin (supposedly demonstrating that he’s unpatriotic) was another case in point. I’ve noticed John McCain doesn’t wear his all the time, and no one makes a fuss about that.
Whether a candidate for public office has it or not, as Samuel Johnson said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
Elizabeth M. Gerber