The Internet and social media were buzzing this weekend over an offensive T-shirt captured on camera Friday by a Getty Images photographer at a Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan rally in Lancaster, Ohio. The shirt, which bore a Romney/Ryan logo, but was not associated with the campaign, read in large letters: “put the white back in the White House.”
The picture was posted to several websites and shared on Twitter. Google was returning at least 12,400 results for stories about the shirt on Sunday.
Extreme anti-Obama sentiment isn’t new. So far this election season, we’ve seen “lynched” empty chair in Texas — a macabre send-up of the Clint Eastwood routine during the Republican National Convention (the chair was eventually taken down), various versions of the “birther” meme, including the son of Wisconsin Senate candidate Tommy Thompson getting caught on video at a rally Sunday saying that Republican voters “have the opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago – or Kenya…”, and the return of the Obama witch doctor image, this time in a New Jersey store display.
Still, the Ohio T-shirt attracted particular attention online and in social media circles, due to the overtly racist message.
Buzzfeed confirmed that the photographer, Jamie Sabau, took the photo inside the Romney/Ryan rally, and not outside. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Romney Ryan campaign called the T-shirt, worn by an unidentified man, “reprehensible,” adding that it “has no place in this election.”
While the shirt is offensive, the fact is it’s easy for those who harbor strong political feelings to create their own apparel and sell them online. (And there have in the past been plenty of offensive anti-Goerge W. Bush, John McCain and Sarah Palin T-shirts too.) TheGrio found just a few examples of anti-Obama paraphernalia available on the Internet, made by various individuals who oppose the president. Do these messages go too far?