Earlier this week, a New Jersey store owner made national headlines when a racially insensitive “Obama witch doctor” window display in his store deriding the President became news, but proprietor Bill Skuby says that he won’t take down the offensive display even if it hurts his bottom line.
In the window of Skuby Co. Lifestyle Clothing in Spring Lake, New Jersey, Skuby has constructed a tacky display crowned with a common protest image of President Barack Obama — one that features the president as a tribesman or witch doctor of some sort with the word “Obamacare” beneath it, a sickle in place of the letter “c.”
Despite the tatty appearance of the display, Skuby claimed the store sporting the poster caters to the “one percent,” a recent nickname given to the country’s wealthiest citizens. But it seems that even claiming to market to a wealthy and likely more conservative demographic, the Obama witch doctor display isn’t doing Skuby any favors financially.
In a follow-up interview after the controversy, Skuby predictably cried “free speech” when admitting business hasn’t been so good since the display made national news. But what Skuby and others like him fail to grasp is the drop in business is precisely how freedom of speech pans out; you’re free to offend your customers, who are then in turn free to spend their dollars elsewhere.
“This is America, isn’t it? … Aren’t we able to say and do pretty much what we want to do?”
Of criticism that the display was racist, Skuby denied the allegations. He says:
“If you want to call me a racist then go ahead. I can assure you I am not a racist; I just really want to see Obama go … This is a good example of where race relations are under this guy’s administration. … This has absolutely nothing to do with race.”
Again, it seems we’ve hit a blind spot. It’s difficult to even formulate the argument that the Obama witch doctor photo isn’t racist — the image only works as a “joke” because the subject of the attack is a black man. Substituting Mitt Romney as a stereotypical witch doctor wouldn’t work, because obviously, Mitt Romney isn’t black. A million arguments can be made against Obamacare without resorting to racist imagery, and using that unrelated attack is one way to quickly telegraph to others that you are, indeed, likely attacking on the basis of race.
And blaming Obama for race relations in the scenario is equally ludicrous, as he’s not the one referring to racist stereotypes on a poster. It’s certainly not the fault of the President that customers find racially insensitive material to be offensive, and have shopped elsewhere.
Do you find the Obama witch doctor display window to be in poor taste?