More RNC Internet Follies: Racist Images on Fan Photo Page

With that sideshow going on, perhaps the RNC has forgotten to keep an eye on their Facebook page, where "fans"─members of the Facebook group─can upload their own images. It's hard to put words to just how appalling the above picture, which appears to have been removed in the last hour or so, is: the idea that miscegenation is an anti-American crime, combined with the racist meme of President Barack Obama eating fried chicken and reference to Loving v. Virginia─the landmark Supreme Court case that struck down laws banning interracial marriage─is pretty stunning. The image was posted Tuesday, coinciding with news out of Louisiana that a justice of the peace was refusing to wed a white woman and a black man; Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal and Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu were quick to condemn the judge, while critics have pilloried Republican Sen. David Vitter for his tardy and tepid criticism.

This isn't, of course, an isolated incident. E-mail has been a recurring Achilles heel. In February, the mayor of Los Alamitos, Calif., sent around an image of the White House surrounded by watermelons; he was forced to resign. The leader of a San Bernadino County, Calif., Republican women's club resigned last fall when the club circulated a similar photo, with then-candidate Obama surrounded by fried chicken, watermelon, and ribs. The Web also spread word of two South Carolina Republicans' reference to a stereotype about Jews.

Although each of these cases make it harder to argue with those who say much of the opposition to Obama is motivated by racism, it isn't fair to place the blame for weirdos like whoever posted this on the Republican Party─after all, the photo posting board is open to anyone who has a Facebook account. It is fair to ask, however, when Republican leaders will learn to control their message online. The GOP would surely like the new site to mark the turning point, but as long as images like this are popping up, it will be clear the tide hasn't turned.