[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/18/art.sharptonpt0218.gi.jpg caption="Al Sharpton took issue Wednesday with a cartoon published in the New York Post. "]
NEW YORK (CNN) - A New York Post cartoon Wednesday drew fire from civil rights activist Al Sharpton, who says the image invokes a history of racism to suggest an ape wrote President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package.
The cartoonist, Sean Delonas, called Sharpton's umbrage "ridiculous," and the newspaper defended its decision to run it.
The comic showed two police officers standing over the body of a chimpanzee they just shot - a reference to the recent mauling of a Connecticut woman by a pet chimp, which was killed by police after the attack. In the cartoon, one of the officers tells the other, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."
"The cartoon in today's New York Post is troubling at best, given the racist attacks throughout history that have made African-Americans synonymous with monkeys," Sharpton said in a statement condemning the cartoon.
The stimulus bill was the top priority for Obama, the first African-American U.S. leader, who signed it Tuesday. Sharpton questioned whether Delonas - who has brutally lampooned him in the past - "is making a less-than-casual inference to this form of racism."
"The Post should at least clarify what point they were trying to make in this cartoon, and reprimand their cartoonist for making inferences that are offensive and divisive at a time the nation struggles to come together to stabilize the economy if, in fact, this was yet another racially charged cartoon," he said.
But in a brief phone interview with CNN, Delonas called the controversy "absolutely friggin' ridiculous."
"Do you really think I'm saying Obama should be shot? I didn't see that in the cartoon," Delonas told CNN.
"It's about the economic stimulus bill," he added. "If you're going to make that about anybody, it would be [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, which it's not."
And Col Allan, the Post's editor-in-chief, said the cartoon "is a clear parody of a current news event."
"It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist," Allan said in a written statement.
Updated 2:30 p.m.