The owner of a barbecue restaurant in Rogers, Arkansas, issues an apology after posting a huge sign reading “Obamacare, America’s Punishment for Slavery Years,” atop a large pole outside of Smokin’ Joe’s Ribhouse.
The racist sign was reportedly posted for 45 minutes Friday night before many complaints forced Johnny Howard to take it down and apologize publicly, saying that he didn’t intend to post a “racist-oriented” message outside his business and the whole thing was a “mistake.”
According to Howard, the sign was obviously taken out of context, and that his issue is with the Affordable Care Act as a policy and not with the President himself.
“It’s the policy and I made the mistake of wording it in the wrong fashion. The policy. It’s not the person it’s the policy. To me, this health care plan is a job killer. I myself will have to eliminate at least one location if all the policies that were written originally go through.” Howard said in a statement.
After receiving numerous complaints, the restaurant removed the original sign and replaced it with: “Why cook? Get some carry-out.” Howard says he’ll avoid turning his marquee into a soapbox in the future. However, he claims the Affordable Care Act will cause him to permanently close “at least one” of his three Smokin’ Joe’s locations.
While affirming that his message wasn’t meant to be “racist-oriented to all,” Howard did not clarify how, exactly, he connected the history of slavery in the United States with health-care improvement. His obscure, unconvincing explanation of his motives has sparked a trickle of unambiguous feedback pointed toward the restaurant online.
In relation to the racist incident, one review denotes that on a recent visit, the ribs were “slimy” and the service was slow at Smokin’ Joe’s. “Also,” it continues, “they are racist right-wing nut jobs.”