Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Advert linking Obama to Hitler axed

A billboard showed US President Barack Obama, Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin (AP)

A billboard advert which compared US President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin has been hastily covered up by the protest group which paid for it following sharp criticism.

Workers papered over the sign in Mason City at the request of an anti-tax "tea party" group in the state of Iowa.

The 200-member tea party group had the original sign put up last week. It showed photographs of Mr Obama, Nazi leader Hitler and communist leader Lenin beneath the labels "Democrat Socialism", ''National Socialism" and "Marxist Socialism".

But after the billboard became the focus of criticism by other state and national tea party leaders, members of the local group sought the change.

North Iowa Tea Party co-founder Bob Johnson said he and other leaders agreed with critics that the image of Mr Obama between Hitler and Lenin was offensive. He said the images overwhelmed the intended message of anti-socialism.

"They are absolutely right in their criticism because the image of Hitler just totally wiped everything else and it misrepresents the tea party movement," Mr Johnson said. "They were right from the standpoint that the image was not a positive reflection on the tea people."

Removal of the sign was welcomed by the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, a New York-based group.

The North Iowa Tea Party "acted properly in removing the grotesquely offensive sign which should never have been put up in the first place. Had they not acted to remove it they would have severely damaged the credibility of legitimate political causes they espouse," the group said in a statement. "We ask that political groups do not trivialise our suffering in the future by making false analogies with Hitler's horrendous crimes."

For now, the sign has been plastered over with a community service announcement, but Mr Johnson said the North Iowa Tea Party plans to put up a new sign soon.

That sign will feature a quote that some attribute to Thomas Jefferson which reads: "My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government." Others argue Jefferson never wrote the statement.

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