Finding the above image to be racist isn’t looking for racism where it doesn’t exist. Claiming that you don’t see the racism in it is laughable. Nothing appears out of thin air. All things need to be seen in their cultural and historical context. That is why both racists and non-racists can look at that cartoon and see why it would be offensive. Some just happen to find this offensive image to be chuckle worthy.
Justifying this image by saying that past Presidents, especially George W. Bush, were depicted as apes or monkeys is a logical fallacy. The idea of African-Americans being a sub-human race of apelike creatures exists as a cultural meme in the United States. That is why calling an black individual a monkey is a racist comment. The idea of white people as monkeys is not a meme. So calling a white person a monkey is merely a jab at one individual’s intelligence or competence, and is not a derogatory comment about an entire race of people.
Finally, arguing that this is some sort of clever combination of two contemporary news stories does not hold water. Firstly, it is simply in poor taste to make light of an incident were police were forced to shoot a family pet, even if they were justified in doing so, and that creature should not have been a pet in the first place. And it is not clever, or funny, and takes absolutely no skill to combine two random unrelated events into one idiotic cartoon. The only link that can reasonably be made between the stories is the idea that apes, and in turn African-Americans, are simple violent creatures that deserve to be shot. This is obviously a notion that only a bigot would hold. Anybody that says otherwise is either genuinely stupid, or willfully ignorant.
EDIT: One thing I just realized I forgot to mention is the “Free Speech” issue. Some people are claiming that this cartoon should never have been published because it is a form of hate speech. Others say that the U.S. Constitution protects the cartoonist’s freedom of speech. I really have no doubt about the cartoonist’s right to draw and publish the cartoon. I am a firm believer in freedom of speech. I have no problem with that. What angers me is the denial that this comic is somehow not racist. If the cartoonist is racist, he should just come out and admit it. This kind of “subtle” racism is far worse than the open blatant racism promoted by neo-Nazis and the like. It is easy to look the other way and ignore this. And that allows racist thoughts and feelings to seem tolerable and ok. And they are not. These things need to be dealt with and faced head on or else they will just continue to happen.