Flap erupts over depiction of Obama in turban

Posted Oct. 23, 2008, at 3:55 p.m.

NEW GLOUCESTER, Maine — A political sign on a front lawn depicting a life-size John McCain as a naval aviator and Barack Obama wearing a turban is drawing criticism.

Robert Horr of New Gloucester said the 8-by-12 sign that’s visible from Route 100 was intended to provoke debate about the candidates’ qualifications to serve as commander in chief. The sign features Obama’s full name, Barack Hussein Obama, and the words, “No U.S. Military Service.”

Some see it as a smear aimed at mischaracterizing the Democratic candidate as un-American.

McCain’s New England spokesman, Jeff Grappone, said the sign “is totally inconsistent with John McCain’s long-standing commitment to substantive, productive political dialogue.”

Horr, however, is unrepentant.

“It’s staying up,” he said Thursday.

Horr said he didn’t see why the image of Obama from a trip to Somalia when he wore a turban and traditional clothing would create such a ruckus.

America is made up of people from all cultures, and the image of Obama probably wouldn’t raise anyone’s ire elsewhere around the globe, Horr said. “Why is it here (in America) that people are getting their panties in a twist?” he said.

There’s a steady stream of motorists honking their horns in approval or shouting insults signaling disapproval. The outcry shows that people are dissatisfied with both candidates, said Horr, a registered independent who declined to reveal which candidate he supports.

Many people have stopped by for a chat. Horr said they’re welcome to join him at his table for a discussion.

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