Really? The New Yorker? That tony bastion of erudition and bien-pensant Eastern liberalism? This is its cover this week?

One of the worst impulses in liberalism is when white people think that they’re so right-on that everything they say race-wise gets an automatic pass. Isn’t their good faith evident? Didn’t they donate to that nice man’s election campaign when that adorable youth knocked on the door? Didn’t they think Dave Chappelle was a genius? Didn’t they almost shout along with Tony Yayo on the new G-Unit album during the lyric "Fuck the police/ they killed Sean Bell"?

Obama spokesman Bill Burton put it like this:

"The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama’s right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree."

No one’s accusing the New Yorker of being Jesse Helms or anything like that. It’s more like a racism of self-parody — what happens when white people who think of themselves as The Good Ones stop trying to be intelligent.

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman