Obama Salute Creator Hits Back at Critics

Facing a wave of harsh criticism, the creator of the Big-O Obama salute says attacks won't stop him.

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At first, Rick Husong was stunned by the overwhelming wave of negative and sometimes crude reactions to his bid revealed in Whispers last week to build a pro-Sen. Barack Obama movement around a hand salute dubbed the Big-O. Among the hundreds of comments posted on the Whispers site were those comparing it to a gang gesture, a Nazi salute, or worse. "This is how Sieg Heil got started. And, no I'm not saying Obama is Hitler. I just think people should be careful about slipping into a personality cult for a charismatic leader," wrote Jake of Tennessee. Husong tells me that he was pretty depressed by the reaction to his idea and free design offered on the website of Loyalty Inc., his California creative company. That is until he heard of a fan walking on Venice Beach wearing a T-shirt displaying the artwork. In fact, despite the tsunami of criticism, the artwork has been downloaded 7,700 times and his site has been hit 214,000 times since the first Whisper went live. "I would call that a raving success," he says, adding that he plans to make his Big-O the "peace sign of our generation."

He also E-mailed me last night to say that the hits on the artwork have inspired him to push even harder to build a movement around the hand signal. Here's what he wrote: "Our symbol 'O' is about much more than Barack Obama. It's a symbol of unity, hope, solidarity, and an end to the divisiveness that has plagued this country for too long. It is the peace sign of our generation; a sign for those who are tired of the fear, the hatred, the greed, and the ignorance. There will be resistance, democracy requires it, but we believe that the good in the American people will persevere.

"Barack Obama is a very exciting catalyst. At first we were bothered by the negative and vulgar comments made. When someone attacks something you hold dear, it hurts, but as we continued to read all the comments, we realized just how silly and frankly unimaginative most of them were. Many didn't even take the time to read the article. People came out against the peace emblem in the sixties, making accusations that it was an anti-Christian symbol, an inverted crucifix, a satanic symbol, and a Communist sign. But like our 'O,' the goodness inherent in the peace symbol persevered, and today it is the international symbol for peace. The hand sign for peace was first a British form of giving someone the bird, then it became a war cry for victory. Today it is a symbol of peace & love. Once again goodness persevered. We too will persevere. Bring your hands together over your head to make a large 'O' and join us in our fight to take America back. Vote for Barack Obama."