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Jun 16, 2007

Between Obama And "Honest Abe"


As an "attack image," I think it's a particularly complex and interesting one.

My question is, to what extent does the visual analogy to Lincoln, as proposed by Black Agenda Report, suggest that Obama has "sold out" black America?

(image: unattributed. h/t: HuffPost commenter whose handle I could re-locate.)


I think this image visually promotes Obama, associating him with a great president, a strong leader and progress for black Americans.

But surely the hat is out of scale? And not centered onto his head correctly? The rest of the image, including facial hair and gaunt cheeks, is well-done.

I've never heard of Black Agenda Report - is it well-known and influential?

Their writings on Obama are extremely nasty. It seems that they're furious because he didn't have two African-American parents, grow up in an inner-city predominately black neighborhood in the 1960s, and have ties to well-known African-American activists. There's a lot about how he doesn't take sides and isn't fully part of one "tribe" or another, so he's an enemy of their side... they call him a "serpent" and a "a knife in our heart", and they put up photos of him with white people, as if to show that he's a traitor.

All in all, I don't think they're very persuasive, and there's not much substance in the pieces I saw.

I don't think the photo will hurt him. I'm not sure how showing him as Abe Lincoln is supposed to be that negative. The hat does seem too tall, but is that supposed to mean something? Does it grow when he lies, like Pinocchio's nose?

I wonder what kind of a black candidate they would expect. I think he walks a fine line in every way. I don't like the way he has to discount any relationship he has to Muslims either, but I'm not surprised that he does it.

Great "photo," and accompanying article. Lincoln's willingness to sacrifice human and ethical rights for political expediency is a matter of historical record. You don't get to run for that office unless you're willing to sell out- Al Gore has said as much as to why he refuses to run again.

It's one thing to sell out to the white corporate structure if you're white, selling out to your own is way different than selling out to those who once sold you.

I don't get how showing anybody as Lincoln is a negative portrayal... then again, I'm way behind on my history lessons. The hat does look way too big... maybe they're trying to say Obama looks like the next great president, but he's just trying to fill a role that's too big for him? While being portrayed as Lincoln might not be bad, being portrayed as somebody who is just playing dress-up is surely negative.

First, a positive reaction to the story and photos. Scrolling down, there is an impressive set of visuals on the site, that cover a wide span of topics. I especially commend them for covering the low power radio station being built as a "barnraising." Those stations provide local coverage to counteract the onslaught of media mergers and are an important benefit in a community.

Second is my distrust of their agenda promoting Black Power, which they seem to offer as their major criticism of Obama (he's too linked to White Power). Many whites criticize Obama's vote for Sec of State Rice, whom Black Agenda says he "coddled." Yet they turn around and portray Obama in the guise of Lincoln, a president whose administration had tremendous impact, despite Lincoln's comment that emancipation would take a century to be fully effected.

>>In his journey to personal identity - dishonestly but expertly packaged for white and corporate audiences in his two books - Obama learned a salient and elemental fact of Black life: we want recognition by the nation as a whole, and some connection to the national narrative. African Americans have claimed at least five U.S. presidents - Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Warren Harding, and Calvin Coolidge - as "soul brothers" in blood, alleging they have Black ancestors. It does not matter that none of them, including Lincoln, thought of Black people as equals or even, in some cases, human. Such is the hunger. <<

Finally, I have a lasting memory of the vote on Proposition 13 in California in 1978. Black parents I knew went right along with approving the property tax freeze that ended up in harming public schools in the state. So, to answer your question about this image, I feel Black Agenda has missed the boat by using Lincoln, who I consider to be a strong president. Do Blacks think differently?

A positive if curious image. The blend of the real with our expectations is a powerful one. I am left wondering, is he really Lincoln (with all the attending historical controversies) or is he Obama or something lesser or greater in between?

I admire Abraham Lincoln. I also admire Barrack Obama. So I think it is a neat graphic. What does it say about the attitudes and values of the authors of the Black Agenda Report that they think associating Barrack Obama with Abraham Lincoln will harm his image?

They want a President who will be first Black and secondly American? They imagine that the other 85% of the US population will think that is a good thing? They imagine such a person could ever become POTUS?

fascinating caricature / character assassination by association, BAGman; bravo!

it would be interesting to collect a gallery set of all the caricatures of all the major political figures, display them together: For example, Dubya as "chimp", or as "roman emperor," etc., and note which facial/body aspects are usually distorted (ie., Dubya = small body; large ears; beady eyes, too close together, w/o depth apparent), so forth and whatnot...

Mr. Obama will/does now present a challenge to the caricaturist, in my opinion ~ because it is all too easy to simply let it all hang out, and revert to nigger stereotype apparent.

Here, Mr. Obama is depicted as nigger not nigger, n'est-ce pas?

He is simultaneously tarred BLACK and feathered WHITE as Lincoln = nigger-lover ?!!

in my opinion, this is a brilliant caricature, thus: it succeeds in being both base disgusting (but, what caricature of Mr. Obama would not be? you see the problem?) while the paradox, the tyranny of this image, is intellectually fascinating.

The Audacity of Photoshop.

The great thing about parody is how it is semiotically "open" to such a range of different readings and interpretations. I think PTATE in particular is on to something. My own first reaction had less to do with how this implicated my attitutudes towards O'bama and more about its implications for the ways in which we revere Lincoln. This might be because I've been reading Alan Trachtenberg's "Lincoln's Smile" OR maybe because I vividly remember my 7th grade english/history classes in 1968 which featured large portraits of Lincoln and JFK in front of the room ... they were omnipresent.

Whew! What a nasty organization, that Black Agenda Report. Obviously, Nation of Islam Black Muslim separatists. "He is a knife in our heart." ... ... ... I'm glad they told me this. I'm more for him than before.

Gore is right about the sewers that you have to wade through chin deep and a mile wide to get to the top. A candidate like Obama, while not likely to succeed, does a lot to knock down barriers and expose agendas. I wonder how he would look in a George Washington wig?

... or a J. Edgar Hoover dress.


I love this picture. Nobody will remember the words accompanying it, but the image is great, and positive for most people. They've done Obama a service here.

How do we know this Black Agenda Report group is not a false flag operation of some kind? Like the CIA's Operation Chaos in the late 1960s-early 1970's?

Maybe they linked him with Lincoln in hope that he gets assassinated?

this is Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report. We commissioned a local artist to do it because we thought it was a fun and interesting image, just alike another we had the guy do of Obama in an Uncle Sam suit. Obama opened up his campaign all but standing atop Lincoln's tomb, remember? So take it any way you want it.

If Brutha O pops off about invading Pakistan again, we might do one of him in a 19th century British army pith helmet, who knows?

He "doesn't look like all those other Presidents on the dollar bills." This is a very good piece of art, btw.
~ X anemi

That is an awesome image! Well done.

I see it as funny and totally positive. I doubt many people have a negative image of Abe Lincoln.

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