About that racist Obama float in Norfolk

And here we go again…

Once more conservatives publicly reveal what many of them privately believe. They are caught, red-handed and -necked, outed as racists and bigots. That’s step one.

Then comes step two: The people who rightfully find this repellent and morally objectionable begin responding with shock and horror, spreading news on social media.

And we move to step three, where the perpetrators respond by claiming it was not explicitly racist while simultaneously invoking their first-amendment right to be giant, flaming douchebags.

Step four is when the politicians who represent the people who do things like this distance themselves from the event, while still willingly taking money and votes from them.

Step five is when people like me get angry about the cyclical nature of all of this. We fire off angry rhetoric, spew words like bullets aimed at the psyche of the kind of assholes capable of this behavior.

Then we arrive at my favorite step: Step six. This is where people like me are told that our WORDS (our accusations of systemic racism, our provable allegations of the pervasive nature of bigotry throughout the conservative ideology) are AS BAD as the ACTIONS of others. As though me saying “I’m no longer surprised when conservatives are racist, as I believe a good number of them (if not the majority) are bigoted” is somehow as dangerous and irresponsible as this:


Are you shitting me?

A group of patriots love this country so much that in the middle of Nebraska on the 4th of July they openly ridiculed our sitting president. These red-blooded Americans are so nationalistic, so devoted to this great country of ours that instead of celebrating this country’s unity they engaged in divisive behavior.

But you know what’s worse to me than the flaming asshats who thought of this, spent time making it, and then publicly displayed it? The people who laughed at it. I mean, at least the float-builders are openly racist and vile. The people who laughed at it are racist, vile, AND cowards.

Actually, the people who are the worst are the people mentioned in this quote from the Lincoln Journal Star:

Parade committee member Rick Konopasek said the float wasn’t meant to be any more offensive than a political cartoon would be. The only restriction for entering a float is that it can’t be considered morally objectionable. That basically translates to a ban on nudity to sexually explicit messages, Konopasek said.

“We don’t feel its right to tell someone what they can and can’t express,” he said. “This was political satire. If we start saying no to certain floats, we might as well not have a parade at all.”

Konopasek and parade announcer Wally Sonnenschein said the outhouse float was the most popular one in the parade, and the three judges awarded it an honorable mention.

“It’s obvious the majority of the community liked it,” Konopasek said. “So should we deny the 95 percent of those that liked it their rights, just for the 5 percent of people who are upset?”

First off, Mr. Konopasek, and I mean this with absolutely no respect: You are a HUGE asshole. It was like you heard what you said in that first quote and were like “no, I can be way more of an asshole than that.” And if that was your intent, an increasing cascade of ignorance, bravo! I imagine your mouth is an endless fountain of moronic prattle.

The articles reiterated that it was not the city government who decided what floats were entered into the parade. So while sending angry letters to the mayor is A VERY GOOD IDEA, may I also offer a humble suggestion. The following are the people of the “Independent Order of Odd Fellows” in Norfolk who approved of this float:

  • Merle Rix
  • Leland Andersen
  • Marie Byram
  • Beverlyann Brunswick
  • Rick Konopasek
  • Kris Colwell
  • Inez Haspeslaqh
  • Marjorie Summers
  • David Fauss
  • Terry Beckner
  • Eva Seda
  • Rod Colfack

If these folks felt comfortable enough putting their name behind a float like this in a parade they organized, then they damn sure better be willing to talk about it with you or anyone who asks. Feel free to let these community organizers know how much you appreciate them “standing up for the rights of the 95%.”

Which reminds me: NOBODY UNDERSTANDS WHAT A RIGHT IS ANYMORE. You do not have a “right” to enter a racist float in a parade. The GOVERNMENT can’t prevent you from doing it, but by God someone should. Just none of the brave souls on that list above.

Now, I’m told time and again that this racism and bigotry is not a part of the GOP itself. I’m chastised for taking the behavior of outspoken conservatives and holding the whole party accountable. I mean, there is no connection between something like this offensive float that was “liked” by 95% of the people there and any actual establishment Republicans.

This year’s parade also included a float of Pete Ricketts supporters.

So what kind of people would possibly allow both an anti-Obama float AND a Pete Ricketts float?

  • Merle Rix – Registered Republican
  • Marie Byram – Registered Republican
  • Beverlyann Brunswick – Registered Republican
  • Rick Konopasek – Registered Republican
  • Marjorie Summers – Registered Republican
  • David Fauss – Registered Republican
  • Terry Beckner – Registered Republican
  • Rod Colfack – Registered Republican
  • Leland Anderson – Registered Republican (NOTE: I previously had a link to donor information for Leland Anderson. I’ve received word that is a different person, so I took that down. The Leland Anderson in Axtell was in no way associated with the parade. However, the Leland Anderson who resides in Norfolk is a registered Republican in Madison county.)

Kris Colwell and Inez Haspeslaqh were not registered (at least under those names) and poor, poor Eva Seda is a registered Democrat, which either makes her the lone voice of reason or she forgot to change her party affiliation.

So, if you’re keeping track at home, a group of 9 registered Republicans allowed both a Pete Ricketts float AND an anti-Obama float. BUT WE’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO DRAW A CONNECTION BETWEEN CRAZY CONSERVATISM AND ACTUAL GOP PEOPLE.

I’m not saying all Republicans are racist. I’m saying ALL Republicans TOLERATE racism to a degree that makes me sick. Instead of a political party, let’s pretend we’re talking about an actual party.

How many known bigots and racists have to attend a house party before you decide you don’t want to go to that party anymore?

If you’re told “There’s gonna be about 50 of us hanging out and drinking. Oh, and like 5 of the guys are HUGE racists” do you still go? Because I don’t.

If you’re a registered Republican you have two choices: You actively work to stop this shit. You do everything you can to clean up the rampant bullshittery that is dominating your party. OR, and this is the only other choice: you deal with it when I call you complicit to racism. You accept that I get to say you hang out with racist morons and that bigots help vote your politicians into office. You understand it when I say that, just by the law of averages, you have helped elect racists.

I’m sick of the cycle where nothing changes. This is me doing step five. I’m ready for step six, where you blast me for holding people accountable for their actions using strong rhetoric.

If you laughed at this float or donated money to the same people that the people who made this float donated to: you’ve invited racists to your house party.

UPDATE: We now know the float maker.

Dale Remmich of rural Norfolk said Monday he is a military veteran who created the float to show his displeasure over the president’s handling of the Veterans Affairs Department.

Dale may be upset about the handling of the VA department. But there’s no way that’s what this float is about. I can tell because of the way it has absolutely nothing to do with the VA anywhere on it. We can argue about whether a parade (something ostensibly for young children and families) is the place for nuanced satirical discussions of particular policies. But that’s not what this was. See, if you’re mad about the VA treatment, you make a float that says that in some way.

This is the classic backpedaling of those who get called out on their racism. See step 3 at the top of this article. I knew he was going to say this BEFORE HE SAID IT. It’s so cyclical it’s nauseating.

And just to prove to you that this isn’t accidental, the float-maker would have had to not know that this happened before in Montana at a GOP convention… Or this in New Mexico. Or this internet meme. Or this political cartoon. Or this image from Florida. I could keep going. Hell google “Obama Outhouse” and you’ll be going for days. And what you’ll notice is that first link, the one in Montana at a GOP convention…the outhouse was riddled with bullet holes.

I’ve heard people say that this is just a “stale old political reference” about Presidential Libraries and outhouses. I googled George W Bush and outhouse. Images and stories about the Obama float and links to the memes above came  up. Let that sink in.

The last thing I’ll say on this today is that Mr. Remmich claims that it was HIM as the zombie at the front of the float. There’s just a few small problems with Dale’s revisionist history. Here’s his excuse:

“I’ve got my bibs on, my walker, I’m covering my ears and I’m turning a bit green. I intended it to look like a zombie who has had enough,” Remmich said in an interview with the Norfolk Daily News.

This is a closeup of the zombie.

Obama float

Does Remmich wear a suit to farm? I don’t know many farmers who do.

Also, there’s the small matter of skin tone… I watch a lot of zombie movies. Never seen any of them turn darker once they die.

Dale had to have seen the press coverage in order to respond. That meant he more than likely read the part where Glory Kathurima, a black citizen of Norfolk, had to explain to her little girl what that float was about. What Dale did this weekend was racist and offensive. He won’t even own up to it or apologize. Not even to Glory and her daughter.

Glad he’s one of yours, conservatives.


18 thoughts on “About that racist Obama float in Norfolk

  1. I think you need to attend the party with the 5 bigots. You can’t influence them if you don’t talk to them.

    • See, and that’s where I disagree. You can’t REASON with people filled with hate. You bar them from coming and say “if you want in, you can’t behave like that.” And to take the metaphor further, what we’re really talking about is not supporting the people who INVITED the racists to the party in the first place.

  2. But I would pay a $5 cover to see that conversation…

    If you just ban them from coming to the party, they’re just going to be intolerant somewhere else, potentially in a more damaging situation. I think you have to confront them at every point, though I think that the best you can probably hope for is to shame them into keeping their opinions to themselves.

  3. I think I shall call racism every time someone shuts down the “white” people. Apparently people believe what they want to believe and it doesn’t matter what anyone says to them. You read way too far into this float along with all the others calling it racism. Get over it. You just wasted all that time writing this out and it makes you sound just as bad as the person who created this float.

    • All this shows is that you don’t really understand the fundamental underpinnings of racism. White people sit atop the social hierarchy. Bigotry and discrimination against them cannot cause us white folks the same harm. I don’t think critically responding in an essay to an offensive display is a waste of time. But if you do, then I am afraid you force me to ask what that says about someone who chooses to read that essay and then comment on it…

      • Yeah, you know: that magic series of words that shuts down the white people. It’s like a hypnosis thing. You say the magic word and they just fall down like lifeless dummies.

  4. If Mr. Konopasek intends to stand behind his statements:
    “We don’t feel its right to tell someone what they can and can’t express. This was political satire. If we start saying no to certain floats, we might as well not have a parade at all.” – then maybe some folks there should build a few creative floats for next year. Here’s an idea: how about a giant pile of maure in the shape of a coiled snake backed with a yellow banner reading “Tea Party” and underneath: “Don’t Tread on Me.”

  5. The question I have is… What does it matter? The entire idea of the 1st Amendment applies to both “Republicans” and “Democrats”. There are plenty of speeches, rallies, and, liberal comments in the news media and across the country. I find it interesting that as soon as they see something they don’t like they determine it is racist or hateful. Because a Republican wants to add drug testing as a requirement for food stamps, they automatically labeled that they hate poor people, and then they are automatically racist. I wonder, how did those items even come up? Not all poor people are of one race or another. But all of the taxpaying Americans are paying the food stamps. So a float is in a parade in Norfolk, Nebraska. And that means that 95% of the people in Norfolk are racist? It is horrible that people cannot express they way I and so many others have fought for. I don’t like everything that I see out there. But I do defend your right to do it. I do hope you understand that most of the differences between Republicans and Democrats are money issues. How to spend tax payer dollars. When you try and bring politics into something as trivial as this you sound more racist then the people you claim that did it. I think the people who find it racist are the racist ones. It doesn’t look like a black man. It doesn’t look like any race that I have seen. A zombie? Well, given that they don’t exist then I can go with that. Maybe I just don’t care enough about what other people think. Maybe I just don’t really see why fighting about it and getting angry is the solution. If you want people to change you have to lead by example, and educate people. There are plenty of racist Democrats also. Giving me a hand out because I am black is worse to me then ensuring I meet the same qualifications as the next person in line. I don’t need help because I am black. I need help because I am poor. The great thing about this country is that you are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine. I would ask that you keep an open mind. And understand, not all Republicans are racist. 95% of Norfolk is not racist. And some people….well…some people just make bad decisions.

    • As I mention in the post, nobody is suggesting you shouldn’t be legally ALLOWED to do it. The first amendment guarantees free speech, not speech without consequences. Also as I mentioned in the post, this specific imagery here has a history. It IS racially based. And I didn’t say the town is racist. I said the people who laughed at it laughed at something racist. And that’s not okay. And it matters because people deal with racism and hatred daily. Someone on twitter I don’t know tweeted this article I wrote. The response from a stranger was “I hope they threw bananas at the float for Michelle Obama.” He proceeded to make monkey jokes about the entire first family. Worth noting the rest of that guy’s posts were pro-GOP candidates. Again, not all Republicans ARE racist. But all Republicans TOLERATE racism. And I’m not okay with that.

  6. While I believe people like Mr Konopasek probably deserve criticism for defending the actions of the creator of the offending float, I do not believe it is any better to refer to him—or anyone else—as “assholes”, or supporters of the float as “asshats”. Calling your political opponents names is no better than what your opponents may do to offend you. Also, saying that ALL Republicans tolerate racism is a generalization that promotes stereotyping. If we are going to improve the level of dialogue on this topic, let’s get rid of the name-calling and blanket stereotyping of our opponents. Real dialogue is one where the participants make a concerted effort to keep the discussion as civil as possible. I realize it’s often hard to maintain a sense of dignity and calmness when dealing with people we disagree vehemently with, but let’s at least make an EFFORT.

    • I get this comment a lot. Totally respect it. And if that’s how you choose to act, I applaud you! But part of the problem is that people in this group act like bullies. They use their size (population) to beat down on the smaller folks. While it is important to explain to the bullies how to change, somebody has to show them not only are we not afraid but that we can give as good as we get. It takes people with your approach and with mine. Now, as for the tolerance of racism comment, I am totally not backing off that one. The GOP and all conservative voters won’t reject the party despite the scores of racists in it and never go far enough in stopping it. If you don’t prevent something or distance yourself from it, that is the definition of tolerance.

    • If you are a Republican who is insulted by “All Republicans being called racist” what have you done lately to change the situation with your fellow Republicans?

  7. Wow – so now nudity is worse than ridiculing the president on the 4th of July. Funny world…

  8. I spread it around on social media, doesn’t mean I’m surprised by the amount of red state douchebaggery that emanates from our state. 🙂

  9. Apologies and lame excuses are too late. Norfolk is on the map and tainted. Sadly, there are good decent, respectable folks who are disturbed by the float’s vulgar image, but they too will wear a badge of shame. As for Dale Remmich, who created this “caricature” of himself – is he black? Because the fellow on the float sure doesn’t resemble a white person by the stretch of anyone’s imagination. Shame on the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Rick Konopasek, Dale Remmich, and Pete Rickett for their disturbing choices. Makes me wonder what their parents’ taught them….

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