Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published June 25, 2013 at 1:27 PM | Page modified June 25, 2013 at 6:45 PM

  • Share:
             
  • Comments (1)
  • Print

Minn. lawmaker apologizes for 'Uncle Thomas' tweet

A Democratic legislator from Minnesota swiftly apologized Tuesday for a tweet he sent that referred to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as "Uncle Thomas" following a major ruling on the nation's landmark voting rights law.

Associated Press

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
So Macaca is a racist term, but "Uncle Tom" is not? Good going with that Dems. MORE

advertising

ST. PAUL, Minn. —

A Democratic legislator from Minnesota swiftly apologized Tuesday for a tweet he sent that referred to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as "Uncle Thomas" following a major ruling on the nation's landmark voting rights law.

Thomas, who is black, was part of a 5-4 majority that invalidated part of the Voting Rights Act meant to deter racial discrimination in elections. The ruling makes it tougher for federal officials to prevent states and localities, primarily in the South, from adopting policies that add barriers to voting.

In response, state Rep. Ryan Winkler tweeted: "(hash)SCOTUS VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas. Marriage decision may blur Court's backsliding."

"Uncle Tom" is a connotation to describe someone subservient to another and has its roots in Harriet Beecher Stowe's pre-Civil War novel about slavery, "Uncle Tom's Cabin." The latter part of the tweet refers to the high court's expected decision on gay marriage.

Winkler, who is white, deleted the tweet and told followers in his feed that he didn't understand the phrase to be a racist term. He later told The Associated Press that he was trying to make a point about institutional racism resulting from the ruling.

"I used a term that was too hot for the issue, but I didn't intend for it to be derogatory," said Winkler, who holds a history degree from Harvard.

Chris Fields, secretary of the Minnesota Republican Party, said Winkler's comments were "beyond the pale" and his apology wasn't enough. "If he had any personal integrity, he'd resign," said Fields, who is black.

Winkler, of Golden Valley, had been weighing a run for Minnesota secretary of state, whose office oversees elections. He said he ruled that out several days ago but hadn't announced it.

The four-term lawmaker represents a district that covers western Minneapolis suburbs and is an attorney. He is known for rhetorical clashes with Republicans while on the House floor and on Twitter.

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Enter to win!

Enter to win!

Share a photo of your holiday lights display and you may win a $100 Home Depot gift card.

Advertising

Partner Video

Advertising

Career Center Blog

Career Center Blog

Looking for joy on the job


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►