Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


GOP Leader Putting Obama's Face on a Chimp in E-mail Might Be Racist, But it's Definitely Ignorant

Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.

Orange County GOP official Marilyn Davenport is refusing to step down from her elected post today after she was outed as the sender of an email of a digitally-altered "family portrait" of President Obama as a baby chimp according to Top of the Ticket. Davenport said she thought the photo was "amusing," and definitely not racist.

Likening her effort at levity to the jabs taken and shared via e-mail at preceding President George W. Bush, Davenport believes the hubub about her humor is "much ado about nothing."

However, the text of the e-mail aligns the image with a long and futilely fought debate over the issue of President Obama's birth. "Now you know why: No birth certificate!" reads the message that accompanies the photo of the chimps. Racist? That argument could be easily made. Plain ignorant seems to cover all the bases here.

If a birth certificate determines citizenship, and Obama's is in question, wouldn't it make more sense to superimpose his face on a family of people holding passports from another country (whichever one people think the President is from, if not America)? Who is to say those chimps aren't American, after all? What Davenport's stab actually shows is the connection between animals and humans, and instead gives more credence to arguments in favor of evolution. It's not Obama's homo sapien-ness that's in question.

Support for LAist comes from

Says Davenport in her excuse-laden statement of apology: "I'm sorry if my email offended anyone, I simply found it amusing regarding the character of Obama and all the questions surrounding his origin of birth. In no way did I even consider the fact he's half black when I sent out the email. In fact, the thought never entered my mind until one or two other people tried to make this about race."

Well, she said it: the "thought never entered [her] mind." Nevermind that it's pretty basic knowledge that Anglo-Americans have long perpetrated racism by comparing African and black Americans to monkeys and chimps. It's hard to say what's sadder: That Davenport didn't make the association between chimps and African-Americans or that she did (and then lied about it) when she sent her "funny" email?

By the way, Davenport emphasized that she has friends who are black, and that she only sent her Obama-chimp e-mail to people who she knew wouldn't be offended by the photo.

The Republican Party of Orange County's Ethics Committee will take up the Davenport issue, however they cannot remove her from the job, and can only issue a condemnation.