Hitchens on The New Yorker‘s Obama cartoon cover:
Instead, you have sophisticates in the metropolis laughing at a portrayal of the fears of the lowly white hicks. This set-up could itself be the subject of a satire, but probably at some other time and in some other magazine. Mr Blitt himself could hardly have been more anxiously literal, contacting the liberal “Huffington Post” blog to assure them that “depicting the concept would show it as the fear-mongering ridiculousness it is”. Let us by all means be certain that there is no ambiguity about our satires.
Satire works only when it’s ambiguous. The ambiguity forces the reader think, “Could they really mean that?” Great satire makes the reader wonder, “Could I ever really think that?”
The New Yorker cover isn’t great satire. It’s not even good satire. At best, it’s cheap sarcasm – if you’ll forgive the redundancy. Blitt’s art merely encourages you to sneer, as Hitchens noted, at the “lowly white hicks.”