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Justice Department investigating anti-Obama 4th of July parade float

Attorney General Eric Holder
Attorney General Eric Holder
Photo by Pool/Getty Images

Apparently Attorney General Eric Holder was not kidding when he said on ABC’s “The Week” that he thinks that opposition to President Obama is motivated, at least in part, by racial animus. The Justice Department is sending someone from its Community Relations Service to look into a float that was part of a 4th of July parade in Norfolk, Nebraska that lampooned President Obama according to a Sunday story in the Washington Times. The float is being called racist and a show of disrespect for the presidency.

The float in question depicted an outhouse and a figure standing outside of it said to resemble President Obama. A sign stated that it was the “Obama Presidential Library.” The float sparked considerable controversy with charges and counter charges being levied.

The Nebraska Democratic Party charged that the float was an example of racism and disrespect for the presidency. The float’s creator, Dale Remmich, stated that the figure standing outside the outhouse represented himself and not President Obama. He suggested that he float was meant to draw attention to the VA scandal in which thousands of veterans had been placed on secret waiting lists resulting in the avoidable deaths of perhaps hundreds.

The Justice Department official, who handles charges of discrimination, met with Norfolk’s Mayor Sue Fuchtman and the Norfolk Odd Fellows, which coordinated the parade as well as representatives of the NAACP. It has not been reported what was discussed at the meeting. Also unknown is what if anything the Justice Department intends to do with Remmich.

Playing the race card is a tried and true tactic designed to shut off debate, the theory being that an accusation of racism is almost the worse thing than can be said about someone. This may be one of the few times that it has been done under color of authority. Even if there is no official move against Remmich the very fact that Holder’s Justice Department has taken notice of his street theater may have a chilling effect of dissent against the president and his policies.