The controversial image comparing President Barack Obama to accused Colorado gunman James Holmes that has been circulating steadily through social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter, has exploded into the national conscience in a huge way.
Making it’s explosive debut on an Idaho billboard, the viral image is drawing the same kind of polarizing feedback that it has online, reports NBCNews.com.
“Offensive.” “Abhorrent.” “Pathetic.” These are all words that residents of Caldwell, Idaho are using to describe the billboard. It’s creators, The Ralph Smeed Foundation, are known for utilizing that space for anti-Obama messages, but this time, even their supporters say this may be taking things too far.
“We’re all outraged over that killing in Aurora, Colo., but we’re not outraged over the boys killed in Afghanistan,” said Maurice Clements, a former Idaho lawmaker and Smeed mentee. Still, continued Clements, “[The billboard utilized] a technique of trying to make a point, and maybe it was poorly done.”
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The sign features Holmes and Obama side-by-side, with the following messages under their respective images:
“Kills 12 in a movie theater with assault rifle, everyone freaks out.” “Kills thousands with foreign policy, wins Nobel Peace Prize.”
The comparison stems from the fact that President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, particular his authorization of “predator and reaper drones,” has resulted in countless, untold civilian deaths in Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Iraq, whose navy has recently purchased US drones to protect their oil.
John Brennan, assistant to the President Obama for homeland security and counterterrorism, dismissed the veracity of the civilian death claims:
“Strikes against individuals are subject to high levels of scrutiny and ordered when there is a high degree of confidence that civilians will not be injured or killed, “except in the rarest of circumstances, said Brennan on April 30. “Targeted strikes conform to the principle of distinction—the idea that only military objectives may be intentionally targeted and that civilians are protected from being intentionally targeted. With the unprecedented ability of remotely piloted aircraft to precisely target a military objective while minimizing collateral damage, one could argue that never before has there been a weapon that allows us to distinguish more effectively between an al-Qaeda terrorist and innocent civilians.
“Fortunately, for more than a year, due to our discretion and precision, the U.S. government has not found credible evidence of collateral deaths resulting from U.S. counterterrorism operations outside of Afghanistan or Iraq.”
He made a complete about face in April of this year on ABC’s “This Week,” saying that for a period of time the U.S. “had no information about a single civilian being killed.” But, he continued, “unfortunately in war there are casualties, including among the civilian population and sometimes you have to take life to save lives.”
Many have argued that though the comparison is provocative, there is some truth at the heart of it, reports KBOI.com. At the very least, as Facebook user Ashley Helton wrote: “It’s a free country, this group has a right to voice their opinion no matter what anyone thinks about it.”
While the characterization of President Barack Obama as a war criminal is arguable, the idea that he is somehow in league with an allegedly mentally ill mass murderer who stormed into a dark theater and killed 12 people, critically injuring 58, continues to anger most people –even across party lines — who see the image:
“[It's] way over the line, and I am not an Obama supporter,” Lynn Davis Hathaway, said on the KBOI 2News Facebook page.