As someone who knows a fair amount about Felix the Cat, I can concur with Skip Gates that he is not and was not a caricature of African-Americans. I can also concur with Paul Krugman and James Fallows that it is by no means necessary that Felix be African-American for Niall Ferguson’s FT lede (“President Barack Obama reminds me of Felix the Cat. One of the best-loved cartoon characters of the 1920s, Felix was not only black. He was also very, very lucky”) to be utterly inappropriate and offensive.
Which leaves only one question: What did Ferguson elide, with an ellipsis, in the email from Gates? I can’t imagine that Gates let Ferguson off quite as easily as Ferguson suggests.