WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. - Call it Freedom of Speech. A billboard recently
erected in Wheat Ridge compares President Barack Obama to a terrorist
and questions his U.S. citizenship.
The billboard, located at 4855 Miller Road, shows two cartoonish images
of Obama wearing a Muslim turban and reads "PRESIDENT or JIHAD?"
It also says "BIRTH CERTIFICATE - PROVE IT!" alluding to the conspiracy
theory which claims Barack Obama was born in Kenya rather than Hawaii,
which would disqualify him for the office of President.
The words "WAKE UP AMERICA! REMEMBER FT. HOOD!" appear on the bottom of the billboard.
The sign belongs to a car dealership.
"Since Fort Hood, I've had it," owner Phil West told FOX 31 News
Friday. "You can't suggest things. You can't profile. You gotta call a
spade a spade."
"Everything I have read about Mr. Obama points right to the fact that
he is a Muslim. And that is the agenda of what Muslim is all about.
It's about anti-American, it's about anti-Christianity," West said.
The Anti-Defamation League condemned the sign, as did AM760 radio host
David Sirota, who discussed the sign and interviewed West on his
program Friday morning.
"It's out of control," Sirota said. "This conservative hatred of Barack
Obama is out of contol, and this brings together all those strands of
it: the racism, the anti-Muslim fervor. It's one thing to criticise the
president on health care, or Wall Street reform, or immigration. But
this is outrageous. And I think it's a fair question to ask why these
questions about religion and ancestry are being directed so viciously
at the first African-American President of the United States."
While the ADL issued a statement calling the billboard an exploitation
of the Ft. Hood shootings that is "divisive and offensive, and
perpetuates hateful and harmful stereotypes about Muslims", prominent
conservatives have been silent thus far.
"That could suggest that conservative leaders are afraid to confront
the extreme fringe of their base," Sirota said. "Or it suggests they
actually condone this message. Either way, it's disturbing."
Sirota is an unabashed liberal, but not all self-identified conservatives who drove past the sign Friday disagree with him.
"I'm not concerned with that at all," said Linda Alexander, of Golden,
in regard to the dispute over President Obama's American citizenship.
"He was elected, he's the president -- that's it, as far as I'm
concerned. Some people just can't accept that, obviously."
But Keith Walters, another passing driver, saw nothing wrong with the billboard.
"I can't honestly say he's a Jihadist, but there's a lot of things that
are questionable," Walters said. "The whole birth certificate
controversy. From what I've read, there's no proof Obama isn't a
Muslim. And I don't believe there's any racism [in the billboard]. I
think that should be a question asked to any president who -- they have
some questionable backgrounds."
Supporters of the birth certificate theory, known as 'Birthers,'
believe the Certification of Live Birth produced by the state of Hawaii
is a forgery. (view the birth certificate)