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As the Washington region knows by now, the folks at washingtonpost.com have been running a provocative ad campaign that involves a big helping hand. (See photo.) The star of the ad, a big, masculine white hand, has been sitting at the web site’s HQ over by the Court House Metro station in Arlington.

And as it sits, it offends.

The offended parties are seven anonymous women who apparently work in and around the confines of washingtonpost.com’s offices. Via a March 6 letter, they protest the presence of dot-com’s big hand, on every sort of modern, politically correct count in the book. Here’s a sampling:

“To see this big white male hand as we walk into work each morning is a sharp reminder of our past difficulties and, obviously, how far we have yet to go to overcome bias and workplace oppression.”

The letter later gets into politics, saying that the Post has been biased against Hillary, and the big white, male hand merely confirms that paper’s institutional tilt.

Read the memo for yourself (PDF—-plain text after the jump) and tell us in the comments space whether it’s for real, or just a real good joke. We will be aggressively updating this huge story.

To: Management of WashingtonPost.com From: Concerned Tenants of 1515 N. Courthouse Building Date: March 6, 2008 Re: The Big Hand Promotion

We are a collection of seven persons – women all — who wish to express our distress with the “Big Hand” prop that is being exhibited in the lobby of the 1515 N. Courthouse building, where each of us work. We (and many others who do not work at this building) find this display patently offensive and respectively demand that the Washington Post management order its immediate removal.

As we interpret the prop, it is meant to symbolize the hand of an employer. It is perhaps no surprise that the creators of this concept felt that the hand should be that of a white male. ‘In a grey flannel suit no less. But haven’t we come far enough? Can we not be a little bit sensitive to the fact that millions of women and minorities also can serve as managers and bosses, employers and leaders? If you don’t get it, you don’t get it.

Virtually all of us seven are in positions of authority. Many of us have the power to hire and fire. We have worked hard for these responsibilities. Yet at the same time, we have each faced difficulties in our career precisely because we are not white males. To see this big white male hand as we walk into work each morning is a sharp reminder of our past difficulties and, obviously, how far we have yet to go to overcome bias and workplace oppression.

Moreover, a number of us seven leave work each night to volunteer for the Hillary campaign. How ironic – us having to walk past a big white male hand of authority. And how utterly astounding that it would be the Washington Post — a paper that most objective commentators agree has been deeply biased against the Hillary campaign — that is behind this stunt.

We appreciate that this ad campaign likely was not created in malice. Rather, we are battling ignorance. We hope, in reading this note, the management of the Washington Post might recognize its error and take immediate steps to correct this troubling situation.

Thank you.

Note: names withheld for fear of potential harassment

cc: Building Management Maggie Williams, Hillary for President