“I don’t care who you are, … this is funny.”
Thus began an e-mail that Walt Baker, CEO of the Tennessee Hospitality Association, sent to to a few friends, the president of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, and several members of the press.
It continues by comparing First Lady Michelle Obama to Tarzan’s chimpanzee sidekick Cheeta. There are two photos at the bottom — one of Obama with an awkward pursing of her lips and another of a chimp.
Unsurprisingly, Baker has already begun apologizing for the outrage created by the e-mail.
“I am sorry for my actions. I am sorry for the offensive contents of the email,” Baker said. “I can only hope those that know me can find it in their hearts to forgive me.”
Many of Tennessee’s leaders are angry that their state is once again front and center of a negative media spotlight.
“Who wants to come to a state where people think like that? This is far reaching and it’s damaging,” said District 3 Metro Council Member Walter Hunt.
This isn’t the first e-mail sent by a Tennessee official since President Obama took office that smacks of racism.
In October, a state trooper sent a “white pride” e-mail to nearly 800 state employees.
Several months before, an aide in the state Senate sent out an e-mail depicting Obama as two cartoonish white eyes peering from a black background.
The Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau has decided to drop its contract with Baker’s marketing firm Saturday, but many are calling for Baker’s resignation from the Tennessee Hospitality Association.