Monday, 14 July 2014 13:22

Nebraska: DOJ Investigates Anti-Obama Parade Float

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As always, the Justice Department is on the case, this time investigating a popular July parade float in Norfolk, Nebraska, that was critical of President Obama.

The Washington Times reported, "A Fourth of July parade float featured at the annual Independence Day parade in Norfolk sparked criticism when it depicted a zombie-like figure resembling Mr. Obama standing outside an outhouse, which was labeled the 'Obama Presidential Library'."

According to the Nebraska Democratic Party, the float is one of the "worst shows of racism and disrespect for the office of the presidency that Nebraska has ever seen."

The Department of Justice reportedly dispatched a Community Relations Service team member who deals with discrimination disputes to a meeting in Norfolk on Thursday to investigate this incident. At the same meeting were the NAACP, Norfolk mayor Sue Fuchtman, and the Norfolk Odd Fellows, which coordinated the parade.

Dale Remmich, creator of the now-controversial float, claims that the figure in the float was himself, not President Obama, and that representation was meant to reveal his frustration with the president's handling of the Veterans Affairs Department.

But the NAACP disputed this assertion. NAACP chapter president Betty Andrews stated, "Looking at the float, that message absolutely did not come through."

Meanwhile, even if the mannequin in the float was in fact a depiction of President Obama, many observers have wondered how the portrayal is racist, as opponents have claimed, and further, have questioned whether respect for the president should override one's ability to showcase criticism of the president. Is it unlawful to show disrespect for the president? Absolutely not.

The Founding Fathers understood the value in protecting the right of citizens to air their grievances publicly. George Washington warned, "If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."

Likewise, Benjamin Franklin declared, "In those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech."

Later presidents voiced similar sentiments. Theodor Roosevelt asserted, "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

However, critics of the Norfolk parade float, like those of previous anti-Obama displays, argue that the demonstrations are disrespectful and therefore inappropriate.

Yet showing respect for a presidential administration was certainly not a requirement when protesters often portrayed President George W. Bush as a Nazi or made parallels between Bush and Adolf Hitler.

In 2009, Real Clear Politics reminded us of such displays.

"Any mildly alert American old enough [will] remember the anti-war protests of 2003-2007. Images of George Bush with a Hitler moustache and a Nazi uniform [were] everywhere at swastika-choked marches and rallies," wrote RCP's John Leo. "'Stop the Fourth Reich-Visualize Nuremburg,' said one sign at a Hollywood march. 'The Fuhrer already in his bunker,' said another."

Leo continued,

On far-left Internet sites, where basic Bush-Is-Hitler commentary became too familiar to attract attention, Bush aides were quickly assigned Nazi roles; Tom Ridge was the new Himmler and Colin Powell became Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop; Ari Fleisher, Karen Hughes and Karl Rove were all Josef Goebbels figures. Some thought Vice President Cheney was the most important Hitler figure — he commands "storm-trooper legions," said famous crackpot Lyndon LaRouche.

One fevered lefty connected Bush to Nero as well as Hitler, saying "Nero burned Rome, Hitler burned the Reichstag and Bush burned the World Trade Center."

Of course, the First Amendment is meant to protect free speech even when the free speech may be abhorrent to some.

The Supreme Court reaffirmed this truth in 2011 when it ruled 8 to 1 that the Westboro Baptist Church had a constitutional right to protest military funerals, regardless of the deplorable nature of the protests.

The Topeka-based Westboro Baptist church attracted public attention for holding boisterous protests at the funerals of fallen U.S. soldiers, where demonstrators declared military deaths to be God’s punishment for homosexuality. Protesters were seen bearing signs that read "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," "God Hates Fags," and "You’re going to Hell."

The Supreme Court still held that the First Amendment protects the members of the Westboro Church, and that freedom of speech cannot be restricted simply because "it is upsetting or arouses contempt."

And even those who detested the Westboro Church's beliefs defended the church's right to protest. In fact, 21 news organizations joined the brief defending the Westboro Baptist Church. Though they admitted the church’s behavior was "inexplicable and hateful," they claimed that a ruling against the church could ultimately be used to stifle anyone who speaks out on controversial issues, and that it could potentially "threaten to expand dramatically the risk of liability for news media coverage and commentary."

And unlike the protests of the Westboro Baptist Church, the Nebraska float was much more well received. A member of the parade committee indicated that the Obama float was among the most popular in the parade.

Still, constitutionalists have pointed out that the popularity of the float is irrelevant in this argument, since freedom of speech is fundamental, and the right to showcase one's opposition must be protected.

Many observers find the Department of Justice's arbitrary action in this case galling considering all the situations in which the DOJ should have acted and did not. For example, in 2012, the Department of Justice announced it would not prosecute Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs or its employees for financial fraud. A Senate panel had investigated allegations that the company marketed four sets of risky mortgage securities without informing its clients of the nature of the securities.

The Senate panel, chaired by Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.), asserted at the time that Goldman Sachs bet against investors’ positions and tricked investors about those positions in order to shift the risk. But Justice Department officials stated that they "have determined that, based on the law and evidence as they exist at this time, there is not a viable basis to bring a criminal prosecution with respect to Goldman Sachs or its employees in regard to the allegations set forth in the report" from the Senate subcommittee.

The DOJ also elected to dismiss charges of voter intimidation against the New Black Panthers who, in November 2008, stood outside a Philadelphia polling facility bearing nightsticks and employing an intimidating stance. When questioned about their presence and their possession of weapons, the Panther members claimed that they were concerned citizens and "that’s why we’re here."

The DOJ compromised with the New Black Panther members, who agreed not to carry "a deadly weapon" within the vicinity of a polling place.

Frustrated by his department’s decision to pursue charges against the New Black Panthers, DOJ official Christian Adams resigned his position, claiming that the Obama administration has generally failed to prosecute "non-whites" in voter intimidation cases.

However, in 2011, the Justice Department did examine the test for applicants to the Dayton Police Department, and even pressured the department to lower its standards because not enough African-American candidates passed the written exam.

And now the DOJ is once again making its presence known in a case of alleged racism revolving around anti-Obama speech.

It is to be hoped that a situation actually requiring DOJ involvement does not arise while the department is busy investigating that dastardly float in Norfolk, Nebraska.

6 comments

  • Comment Link R Jensen Tuesday, 15 July 2014 22:36 posted by R Jensen

    I think a "zombie like" Eric Holder behind bars would be a great idea for next years parade float.

  • Comment Link Nora Tuesday, 15 July 2014 01:52 posted by Nora

    I think it's good that the DOJ finally got off it's fattened backside to investigate SOMETHING, even though the float had nothing to do with what they're claiming, because they have to look for opportunities to play the race card. It's not because he's black, it's because he's an arrogant a88hat. He could be purple for all I care. Look at all the black people who HATE Obama. He has victimized them most of all. When you stink that bad and people are open about their disgust, only a coward hides behind his skin color. I don't think Kenya wants him back, and he's not a citizen of this country, so he needs to just get lost. Throw him over the fence and let the rattlesnakes get him. His treason is so "in your face" its absolutely shocking that the DOJ is trying to save his face despite his indefensible actions to destroy this country and starve, sicken and impoverish us!

  • Comment Link Randy Monday, 14 July 2014 19:54 posted by Randy

    The BO image that came to mind after the initial description of the float…was entirely appropriate considering BO's track record, taking into account all his obsessive lying and much, much worse! I thought it was comical in fact….An Out House as his library…..Good One! If there's a case of discrimination here…it's against the guy on the float…….

  • Comment Link Luke Liesner Monday, 14 July 2014 19:31 posted by Luke Liesner

    My God, has this country sunk so low that even the United State Attorney General cannot or will not read and understand the 1st Amendment. Holder has called us cowards because we will not, according to him, discuss racial issues, but when people criticize the president (which happens to be black) he calls them racist. He is so childish that it's not worth wasting time trying to have a rational conversation with him. Every time is see this fool, the only thing that goes through my mind is all those U.S. Senators that confirmed his appointment are still there corrupting this government even more. Stupidity compounded by idiocy equals bureaucracy.

  • Comment Link PJ Monday, 14 July 2014 18:50 posted by PJ

    This is all they have to do? Maybe we need a new DOJ to do their job and to stop defending BO.

  • Comment Link Joyce Monday, 14 July 2014 17:48 posted by Joyce

    M oh my, the AG not only has trouble telling the truth, but also has trouble facing the truth. LOL!

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