State Rep. Rouson decries Obama 'Joker' image
State Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, is complaining about an image posted on the Pinellas County Republican Party FaceBook page depicting Barack Obama as the Joker from the latest Batman movie. Rouson said showing the first African-American president in greasepaint is hurtful and inflammatory, and noted that the incident comes on the heels of another prominent Republican activist, David McKalip, sending an e-mail image of Obama as a witch doctor.
"If there had never been a period of time in this country when African-Americans in order to be funny played Stepin Fetchit type roles in greasepaint, and members of the majority population had not used such caricatures to make a people feel inferior or as buffoons, then maybe some folks could look at it for some pure artistic humor," Rouson said. "But for many of us, it conjures up feelings of denigration."
The controversial image has been spread across the country, especially since the Drudge Report highlighted it -- and noted that Vanity Fair had created a comparable image of President Bush as the Joker (right).
Chet Renfrow, treasurer of the Pinellas GOP, said he did not know who created that FaceBook page, which is not the official page of the county party. But he called the image inappropriate. "We do not condone anything like that," he said. "I don't think it has anything to do with race at all. ... But I just have a problem with making the president into a caricature. I don't like it when they did it to Bush, and I don't like it now."