Der Stürmer Redux
I think the whole thing illustrates a nasty trend in the press in general, Steve Bell of The Guardian being one of the worst culprits. It is now routine to show the Holy Father as a Nazi. But look at the cartoon from this week's Times. Look at the caricature of Pope Benedict. The eyes look vulpine, predatory, rather like the Tory advert showing Tony Blair's eyes as devilish. The ears are vulcan. The mouth sneering. It all adds up to one thing: inhuman. The Holy Father represented as something not human at all.
Of course, representing someone as a monkey would seem to be a great insult. Certainly it would be unacceptable to represent or even seem to represent President Obama or the BBC's George Alagiah as a monkey - an act requiring an immediate and grovelling apology.
I am no groupie for President George W Bush, yet he was routinely represented as a monkey, here by the aforementioned Steve Bell. Ho. Ho.
But you see it isn't really funny when you go into the history of political cartoons over the last century. Needless to say the Catholic Church was always a target of one journal in the 1930s. Pius XII seducing Germany's women or the devil directing Catholic anti-Nazi writings (oh, you didn't realise the Church was anti-Nazi?)
But put it all together, when you start as Der Stürmer did, systematically representing people as not human, as we see with the Pope. Well, use your imagination as to what might happen next.