Aurora, Indiana sits just across the Ohio River from Kentucky, and a short drive from Cincinnati. Every fall, the streets of the city turn into a fairground, complete with food vendors, carnival rides, live music and a hallmark parade down Second Street.
On Saturday, Frank Linkmeyer joined the parade aboard a float of his own creation which managed to check off every box in Offensive Imagery Bingo. Here’s a photo:
On your left, you’ll see uncanny likenesses of the two presidential candidates. Donald Trump appears to be manning the lever of an electric chair upon which Hillary Clinton is sitting. In case the imagery wasn’t clear, death himself—complete with black robes and scythe — was standing guard.
The float was adorned with a number of signs, including several Trump/Pence campaign posters. But the pièce de résistance was a handwritten sign, affixed to the side of the float, running down the right-wing laundry list of Hillary Clinton’s many alleged sins, including “Benghazi,” and “using email,” and “health.”
For good measure, the float’s creators threw in a replica of an Easter Island head in blackface, helpfully labeled Obama for those who didn’t get the joke. It’s unclear who the fourth gentleman on the float is supposed to be, but our best guess was “If Gandalf the Wizard joined Westboro Baptist Church.” If you’ve got insider information, feel free to email me an anonymous tip.
“It’s all in fun,” said Linkmeyer, who has entered floats in the parade for years. “Laughter is the best medicine in life and this country needs more laughter — and the people that are offended by it, I’m sorry. Don’t come to the parade next time.”
Linkmeyer may well have meant no harm or offense with his float, but it speaks to the normalization of the kind of extreme, violent rhetoric that Donald Trump has invited and enabled. On Twitter and on stage at his campaign rallies, Trump has primed his audience to not only distrust the media, minorities, and Clinton supporters, but to lash out at them, sometimes violently.
The fair’s organizers released a statement after many residents voiced their strong complaints about imagery depicting the murder of the first female presidential candidate in a parade attended by children.
“The Aurora Lions Club regrets the display which was part of the Aurora Farmers Fair parade on October 1st which offended some viewers,” the statement read. “The parade is a public venue which does not reflect the views of the Aurora Lions Club. As a member of a worldwide service organization, we are proud and standby our record of service to this community. We appreciate the high levels of support and the esteem given to us by our citizens. We will continue to do our best to live up to their standards. We hope the political circus of this year’s election stays with the national media.”
Speaking of the national media, Linkmeyer says he’s considering lampooning them on his signature float next year.