A number of Trump supporters doubled down this week on their criticism of former President Barack Obama after a previously unreleased photo emerged showing him standing alongside controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
In addition to sharing and commenting on the instantly controversial picture, some Twitter users seized on the opportunity to promote photographic evidence they say proves President Donald Trump is not bigoted as he is sometimes portrayed by his critics.
The image of Obama and Farrakhan was reportedly captured in 2005 by journalist Askia Muhammad during a Congressional Black Caucus meeting.
Obama, then a Democratic senator representing Illinois, smiled widely as he posed with a group of individuals including Farrakhan, whose radical views have been widely denounced as antisemitic.
The image’s release sparked a flurry of negative comments on Twitter, largely from conservatives but with criticism coming from across the political spectrum.
Some saw the fact that the photo was kept hidden for more than a decade as proof of a double standard between Obama and Trump.
“Trump was roundly (& rightly) condemned in the press for dancing around his disavowal of virulent racist & anti-Semite David Duke,” tweeted conservative commentator Guy Benson. “A journalist deliberately withheld a photo of Obama grinning w/ virulent racist & anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, explicitly to protect Obama’s career.”
Jack Posobiec, a prominent Trump supporter on Twitter, shared his take on the brewing controversy by retweeting one of his earlier posts showing Trump standing beside civil rights leader Rosa Parks.
“Trump stands next to Rosa Parks,” he wrote in a separate tweet. “Obama stands next to Louis Farrakhan. Which one does the media label a racist?”
The photo was taken during a 1986 ceremony at which Trump and Parks were among the 80 Americans awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
As for allegations that the 2005 photo of Obama was suppressed for political purposes, Muhammad acknowledged that he initially agreed to keep it secret because of its possible impact on Obama’s presidential ambitions as well as out of fear of retaliation by individuals he said did not want the photo to be released.
“I gave the picture up at the time and basically swore to secrecy,” the photographer said. “But after the nomination was secured and all the way up until the inauguration; then for eight years after he was president, it was kept under cover.”
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