The most recent U.S. Census shows that Norfolk, Neb., has a white population of 88 percent.
So maybe this shameful, racially offensive story about the city and President Barack Obama isn’t so surprising.
Norfolk is gathering the wrong kind of national attention today because a float in the city’s July Fourth parade included an outhouse labeled “Obama Presidential Library,” with a dummy standing outside the door.
Let’s have the defenders get their excuse in first.
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“It's obvious the majority of the community liked it,” said Rick Konopasek, one of the parade organizers. “So should we deny the 95 percent of those that liked it their rights, just for the 5 percent of people who are upset?”
He added that the float was just like a political cartoon. And look: It got an honorable mention from three judges, he said.
More than likely, of course, Konopasek’s 95 percent estimation is way off. Not every single white person — plus some of the Hispanics in town — share his love for mocking the nation’s first black president with basically a racist float.
The Nebraska Democratic Party also weighed in, calling the float one of the “worst shows of racism and disrespect for the presidency that Nebraska has ever seen.”
The 1.6 percent of Norfolk’s population that’s black wasn’t as understanding. And they shouldn’t have been. From CBS News:
“Glory Kathurima, a black woman living in Norfolk, attended the parade with her nine year-old daughter.... She (said) she was outraged by the float and disgusted that her daughter witnessed it.
‘I'm ashamed, I’m appalled,’ she said. ‘You see people laughing and pointing at it, smiling, looking positive about it. I immediately felt sick to my stomach.... I knew what that meant, and I knew there was no sort of political statement being made by an image like that.’”
As for the defenders, as other people have pointed out, it would have been interesting to see what kinds of floats the good people of Norfolk, Neb., might not have liked being in the parade, even if they were just “like a political cartoon.”
Say, something having to do with gay marriage or another possibly controversial subject in the small Nebraska city.
The good people of Norfolk need to rally in the coming days to show that this float does not define their city.
To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.