I got this email forward today:
Senator Barack Obama, Governor Bill Richardson, Senator Hillary Clinton and Ruth Harkin stand during the national anthem.
Barack Hussein Obama's photo (that's his real name)......the article said he REFUSED TO NOT ONLY PUT HIS HAND ON HIS HEART DURING THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE, BUT REFUSED TO SAY THE PLEDGE.....how in the hell can a man like this expect to be our next Commander-in-Chief????
First off, I find it incredibly irritating that the email assumes we should all be outraged at Obama's name. If he has a name like that he's probably a terrorist, right? Maybe President Bush should just lock him up as a preventetive measure.
Second of all, what does the picture really tell us? It bothers me that things like this are forwarded soley to be divisive and lead people to jump to conclusions.
At Snopes.com I looked up the picture and discovered that Senator Obama wasn't refusing to say the pledge. The picture wasn't even taken during the pledge.
From Snopes: The photograph itself is real, one of several images of the Iowa steak fry event published by Time, and shows Barack Obama standing with his hands clasped just below his waist, while New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, New York senator Hillary Clinton, and Ruth Harkin (wife of Iowa senator Tom Harkin) stand with their hands held over their hearts. It's difficult to judge exactly what's going on from a single still image (it's possible, for example, that the photograph captured an instant just before or just after the national anthem was played, and Senator Obama had not yet raised his right hand or had just lowered it), but other accounts (including the following ABC News video of the event) indicate that the picture is as described:
(It's also not clear from the photograph or the video just what the candidates are looking at. The Flag Code advises that they should be "standing at attention facing the flag," but none of them is facing the flag displayed behind the platform on which they're standing. Presumably there's another flag off to the right of the platform, since most of them are facing that direction.)
Such an act would be consistent with Senator Obama's response when he was asked in October 2007 interviews about his not wearing a U.S. flag pin in his lapel, a gesture which he said he had abandoned in favor of actions he considered more meaningfully patriotic:
The truth is that right after 9/11 I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for, I think, true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security. I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest. Instead I'm gonna try to tell the American people what I believe what will make this country great and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.
Somebody noticed I wasn't wearing a flag lapel pin and I told folks, well you know what? I haven't probably worn that pin in a very long time. I wore it right after 9/11. But after a while, you start noticing people wearing a lapel pin, but not acting very patriotic. Not voting to provide veterans with resources that they need. Not voting to make sure that disability payments were coming out on time.
My attitude is that I'm less concerned about what you're wearing on your lapel than what's in your heart. And you show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those who served. You show your patriotism by being true to our values and our ideals and that's what we have to lead with is our values and our ideals.
As for whether this incident was an "accident," whether Senator Obama habitually declines to perform the hand-over-heart gesture, or whether there's any particular meaning to the (non-)action, an Obama campaign spokesperson said:
Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't. In no way was he making any sort of statement, and any suggestion to the contrary is ridiculous.
We could not find any information substantiating the claim (made in the text accompanying some versions of the e-mailed photo) that Senator Obama "refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance."