Since it’s a magazine that’s pretty solidly liberal, and which usually avoids overt issue cartoons on its cover, I was pretty surprised by the current New Yorker cover, which seems to me to be a pretty blatantly anti-affirmative action piece.
The drawing, by Edward Sorel (one of my favorite current illustrators), is entitled “musical chairs” and shows a bunch of young folks in graduate gowns playing musical chairs.The most central three figures are a white man with a frightened, vulnerable expression surrounded by two smirking, devious-looking figures, one a black man and one a white woman; the black man and white woman have both gotten seats, meaning the central white male figure is out of the game.
In the background, this general theme is repeated – distressed white men, aggressive women or blacks – plus a black woman and a white woman struggle with each other for control of the same chair. (Less prominently positioned, two probably-white guys on the sides of the image have gotten chairs and are happy). In the foreground, a white male tenured professor happily controls the music.
I keep on thinking “surely they wouldn’t have.” But the “look how affirmative action hurts white men” interpretation of the cover is so obvious, it’s hard to imagine how Sorel and the New Yorker editors could have missed it.