GOP site deletes Obama, Osama material but retains 'ridiculous' rumor
A Republican website which linked Sen. Barack Obama to terror mastermind Osama bin Laden and also called for the waterboarding of the Democratic presidential candidate has taken most of the offensive material down, but still sports a "ridiculous" chain e-mail based on a conservative's satirical column, RAW STORY has found.
"Sacramento County Republican leaders Tuesday took down offensive material on their official party Web site that sought to link Sen. Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden and encouraged people to 'Waterboard Barack Obama' – material that offended even state GOP leaders," Ed Fletcher reports for the Sacramento Bee. "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has pushed the party to try to broaden its appeal, took issue with the site. 'In the governor's view, it's completely and totally inappropriate," said Julie Soderlund, a Schwarzenegger spokeswoman.'"
However, on its front page, the website (SacramentoRepublicans.org) retains a copy of a chain e-mail which has been widely debunked.
"Hot on the heels of his explanation for why he no longer wears a flag pin, presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama was forced to explain why he doesn't follow protocol when the National Anthem is played," the material taken from a chain e-mail states.
"As I've said about the flag pin, I don't want to be perceived as taking sides," Obama said. "There are a lot of people in the world to whom the American flag is a symbol of oppression. And the anthem itself conveys a war-like message. You know, the bombs bursting in air and all. It should be swapped for something less parochial and less bellicose. I like the song 'I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing.' If that were our anthem, then I might salute it."
The non-partisan website FactCheck.org calls the e-mail "ridiculous," noting that it was derived "from a column dated Oct. 27, 2007, on a Web site called the Arizona Conservative, which is written by John Semmens and clearly labeled as humor. His column, in fact, is called 'Semi-News -- A Satirical Look at Recent News.'
"This is a ridiculous example of how false stories are started, spread and, in many cases, believed," FactCheck says. "Nevertheless, his column on Obama has been copied and sent around in e-mails, masquerading as true stories. The reader who asked us about it said he received it from a conservative Republican co-worker. The e-mail included a note calling Obama's candidacy 'a joke.'"
FactCheck continues, "In this case, the joke is the message falsely quoting Obama, and it's on whomever is gullible enough to believe it's true."
Urban legend site Snopes notes that the e-mail is still in circulation.
"In September 2008, this same piece began arriving in our inbox headed by the claim that it was derived from the 7 September 2008 airing of Meet the Press and naming the interviewer as 'General Bill Ginn, USAF (ret.),'" the website states. "It goes without saying that Senator Obama wasn't among the guests on that day's show (those were Senator Joe Biden and author Tom Friedman)."
Also, although the following photo was removed from the front page of the site, it is still hosted on the official Sacramento Republican party's website server:
Excerpts from Sacramento Bee report:
Taking credit for the site (sacramentorepublicans.org) and its content was county party chairman Craig MacGlashan – husband of Sacramento County Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan.
But he defended his Web site. "I'm aware of the content," he said. "Some people find it offensive, others do not. I cannot comment on how people interpret things."
Kevin Johnson, the dean of the University of California, Davis, law school, said he was taken aback by the Web site's warning to "Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid" of Obama. It was removed later Tuesday.
"Just sad," Johnson said. "It suggests to me that we haven't gone as far as we would have liked in putting racism to bed."
"It's disappointing that something like this would show up on the Republican Party Web site," Johnson continued. "Maybe someone hacked into it. That would make me feel better. This is hateful stuff."
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