After today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that strikes down parts of the Voting Rights Act, state Rep. Ryan Winkler, a DFLer from Golden Valley, fired off a tweet that referred to Justice Clarence Thomas as an “Uncle Thomas.”
Hours later, he formally apologized.
Thomas, who is black, was part of the majority ruling in the case.
Winkler’s original tweet this morning said:”VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas.”
The four others in the majority were Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia.
Winkler soon deleted the original text and then sent these tweets from his account:
- I didn’t think it was offensive to suggest that Justice Thomas should be even more concerned about racial discrimination than colleagues.
- But if such a suggestion is offensive, I apologize.
- Deleted Tweet causing offense regarding Justice Thomas. I apologize for it, but believe VRA decision does abet racism.
- I did not understand “Uncle Tom” as a racist term, and there seems to be some debate about it. I do apologize for it, however.
In an interview after the flap, Winkler told the Star Tribune he doesn’t think it will hurt his political career:
“I don’t know. I hope people judge people on the merits of what they do in public office and not on the firestorm of a term that is used hastily but with no malintent.”
And he said he had decided not to pursue a rumored bid for secretary of state before the SCOTUS flare-up.
And at 1:40 p.m.he issued this statement through the House DFL caucus:
“I was very disappointed today in the Supreme Court decision to roll back key provisions of the Voting Rights Act because I believe the Voting Rights Act is one of the most important steps our nation has taken to eliminate racial discrimination.
“In expressing that disappointment on twitter, I hastily used a loaded term that is offensive to many. My words were inappropriate and I apologize. The implications of this Supreme Court decision are serious for our state and country and I regret that my comments have distracted from the serious dialogue we must have going forward to ensure racial discrimination has no place in our election system.”