Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Classic Moment

I don't believe in guilt by association but.... to all those who haven't drunk the Obama Kool-Aid, who wonder if the tens of thousands of individuals who come out to a Barack rally to cheer his applause lines, to swoon and sometimes faint, know what they're actually entranced with, comes one of the Democratic presidential campaign's most curious events.

It happened at the senator's speech, following his 9.4% loss to Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, in a YouTube moment.

Here is Jonathan Alter's description (under "Who Are The Obama Abercrombie Guys?):

If you were watching Obama's concession speech last night then you saw them: Three guys standing two rows behind the candidate in what is usually a carefully-selected backdrop of loyal sign-waving supporters, each sporting t-shirts clearly bearing the logos of Abercrombie & Fitch. During Obama's speech, they waved their signs dutifully but also clearly communicated with each other; at one point, one of them blackberried. Obama's speech was great as usual (and nice line to slip in there about 4-or-8 years!) but it was distracting to see that huge "FITCH" in the background and see the trio of average-looking dudes bobbing behind his head. Who were they and what were they doing there?

No one knows whether this was product placement by Abercrombie & Fitch (which has denied it), a plant by the Obama campaign (which has denied it), or a prank by three guys who had shopped together (or drunk together). But we do know something about Abercrombie & Fitch Co. In an (11/24/04) article on the CBS News website describing a piece broadcast on 60 Minutes, we read that a lawsuit had been filed against the chain, charged with firing, or refusing to hire, young people "because their look was not consistent with the store's look." The lawsuit, according to the report, "alleges that Abercrombie hires a disproportionately white sales force, favors white employees for the best positions, and discourages minorities from even applying for jobs."

And what was the store's look?

It's dominated by Caucasian, football-looking, blonde-hair, blue-eyed males; skinny, tall," says Lu. "You don't see any African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and that's the image that they're portraying and that they're looking for."

Liu says she was fired after corporate officials visited the store, and, according to her, didn't like what they saw: "A corporate official had pointed to an Abercrombie poster and told our management at our store, 'You need to have more staff that looks like this.' And it was a white Caucasian male on that poster."

In an update, CBS News reported "Abercrombie & Fitch settled the class action suit against it for $40 million. As part of the settlement, the company agreed to create an office of diversity, and to recruit more black, Latino and Asian employees."

So three guys go to an Obama speech and celebrate a clothing chain, giving it free advertising. And it's a company which, until it was stopped by determined ex- (or would-be) employees who filed a lawsuit, discriminated not only against non-white employeees and potential employees, but perhaps even against all those who did not fit the Nazi racial ideal. And that is the operation these Obamites think is oh, so cool- one which avoided hiring anybody who looked remotely like a Barack Obama.

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