Apparently Colonel Jay Raymond Commander of the flagship Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, didn't get the word. Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States. He's also the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. The failure to get the word was apparent when Raymond did not instantly reprimand Peterson commissary employees for abruptly yanking Obama's picture from the commissary entrance.
The employees claimed that the picture of Obama didn't fit in with the theme and the tradition of President's Day. That only presidents Washington and Lincoln should be honored on that day; meaning that their pictures are the only presidential pictures that should be seen. This lame excuse won't wash.
Obama is the current President and before him Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and probably the faces of Bush Sr. and Ronald Reagan smiled benignly down on commissary visitors and patrons on President's Day. There is no record anyone protested that their pictures were not in keeping with the spirit of the day.
The Obama picture flap is not a petty, silly, and small thing. It's part of the relentless low intensity campaign that has been waged by some bloggers, on some web sites, and by some conservative talk radio hosts to belittle, demean and discredit the nation's first African-American president. Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley and Peterson Air Base Commander Jay Raymond should call the picture removal the bigoted act that it is.
They should do what any good military commander does when there's insubordination and disrespect in the ranks and that's crack down. That means an immediate order to place Obama's picture back on the wall, and sternly warn that this is an order and disobedience will be punished.
Secretary Donley should also send a message to Air Force personnel at all bases that President Obama is the nation's commander in chief. His picture will be on full display at the bases and fully respected.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is How Obama Won (Middle Passage Press, January 2009).