Monday, September 29, 2008

Obama Effigy Hanged On Oregon Campus

Lost in the shuffle of the Wall-Street meltdown and the presidential debate last week was a disgusting story from Oregon, where it was reported that a life-size effigy of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was found hanging from a tree at a small Christian university and secured with fishing line around the neck.

A label on the cardboard cutout, found at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, said "Act Six reject," referring to a multi-university scholarship program that primarily benefits minority students in urban areas.

The lynched figure of Obama was discovered last week by a campus custodian, who removed it immediately. Campus officials said Wednesday that they do not know who committed the act at the university, which is about 25 miles southwest of Portland and has 3,200 students across four sites.

The hanging of the effigy around the neck is, of course, seen as one of the most virulent pieces of racist symbolism and is intended to evoke memories of the lynching of black men by white mobs in the United States in the last centuries.

U.S. Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) mentioned the incident on the Senate floor over the weekend, calling it a "…recent act of hate and intimidation in my home State of Oregon."

"Sadly, this crude and incendiary act of racial intimidation highlights our continued need to address the issue of civil rights in our country as racism still lurks in many dark corners of our Nation," said Smith. "Hate crimes and acts of racial intimidation seek to marginalize entire groups of Americans -- and it simply cannot be tolerated in a democratic society."

George Fox University President Robin Baker responded in an address to 1,200 students on the school's Newberg campus Wednesday morning.

“We will not tolerate such displays and condemn it in the strongest terms,” said Baker. “George Fox University is committed to becoming a place that more broadly represents the Kingdom of God – a place where students from diverse backgrounds come together to live out the teachings of Jesus in our world."

The Obama campaign also commented saying via spokeswoman Sahar Wali that the effigy hanging was "an unfortunate incident but you know we have had a very positive response from Oregonians across the state."

Newberg police are working on the case and details have also been turned over to the U.S. Secret Service, to determine if a crime has been committed or if there is associated risk to the Democratic presidential nominee.