Until redistricting in 2010, Ryan Winkler was my state representative in the Minnesota Legislature. Since Representative Winkler was a Democrat he and I agreed on few political few issues. And Winkler was prone to engage in hyperbole and rhetoric that cast dispersions on anyone not enlightened enough to share his progressive views. So during the last few years, I’ve engaged in more than a few debates with him on Twitter as have a number of other local conservatives (at least the ones he didn’t block).
After this morning’s Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act (VRA), Winkler took to Twitter to weigh in with his reaction:
Tea Party News Network)
It didn’t take long for local folks to react to Winkler’s offensive reaction:
OMG --> “@RepRyanWinkler: #SCOTUS VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas. Marriage decision may bl...”
— Kevin Watterson (@kwatt) June 25, 2013
.@jengratz MT @RepRyanWinkler: #SCOTUS VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas.
— Jack Tomczak (@JackTomczak) June 25, 2013
If conservative said this, media'd shred: "@RepRyanWinkler: #SCOTUS majority is 4 accomplices to discrimination, 1 Uncle Thomas" #stribpol
— mitchpberg (@mitchpberg) June 25, 2013
This is really just @RepRyanWinkler being @RepRyanWinkler. I'm not even remotely surprised.
— Jeff Kolb (@jpkolb) June 25, 2013
I too wasn’t shocked by Winkler’s comments when I passed them:
“@RepRyanWinkler: #SCOTUS VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas. *A classy gem from Rep Winkler.
— ChadTheElder (@ChadTheElder) June 25, 2013
Meanwhile, Winkler must have realized he had gone too far and started to backtrack:
But if such a suggestion is offensive, I apologize.
— Ryan Winkler (@RepRyanWinkler) June 25, 2013
The classic non-apology apology, “I’m sorry if you were offended by what I said.”
Then Winkler deleted his original tweet and might have been able to control the damage if he had not violated the first rule of holes:
@atrupar 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.
— Ryan Winkler (@RepRyanWinkler) June 25, 2013
Now the real fun began as the story started getting traction nationally:
Congrats, @RepRyanWinkler- your incredibly offensive tweet got picked up nationally. Enjoy! https://t.co/wtihtmx35H #mnleg #stribpol
— John Rouleau (@John_Rouleau) June 25, 2013
The floodgates were opened at that point. There are just a few of my favorite among the many tweets on the matter:
So @RepRyanWinkler. You had a good run. But you just did the racist equivalent of tweeting a picture of your junk.
— Ben Howe (@BenHowe) June 25, 2013
If @RepRyanWinkler was Repub launching racial attack against Dem, media would make him most famous local pol since Todd Akin. #GoodToBeDem
— John Nolte (@NolteNC) June 25, 2013
Hey, @JusticeThomas, bad news. I know you grew up in Segregation South, but a white liberal from MN thinks you don't get racial probs.
— Sunny (@sunnyright) June 25, 2013
.@RepRyanWinkler Man up, Harvard/UMinn Law School grad. You fully intended to smear Justice Thomas. Own your bigotry. http://t.co/cGZwYlWEwD
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) June 25, 2013
So @RepRyanWinkler didn't know "Uncle Tom" was a racist slur. Good to know deep ignorance of American culture won't hold politicians back.
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) June 25, 2013
Last year a DFLer got caught having sex with a 17-year-old boy at a truck stop. Today a DFLer finds out he's a racist. Way to go, Minnesota.
— Eric (@eriContrarian) June 25, 2013
@RepRyanWinkler Because when black Americans are looking for someone to tell them what to think all eyes turn toward white men in Minnesota.
— Kevin D. Williamson (@KevinNR) June 25, 2013
While Thomas grew up descendants of slaves raised by single mom in segregated south, Winkler grew up in 80s in MN. http://t.co/fLICh7bmyn
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) June 25, 2013
Difference between Ryan Winkler and Henry Winkler? It took Fonzi 7 years to jump the shark.
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) June 25, 2013
Those of you who follow conservative media no doubt recognize many of those names. But it wasn’t just limited to conservatives.
Come on folks. We can disagree w/Justice Thomas and other 4 Justices on #VRA decision without name calling. Just say #wrongheaded. Agree?
— Donna Brazile (@donnabrazile) June 25, 2013
When national leaders from your own party are distancing themselves from you it’s not a good sign.
The story also appeared on Drudge and in many other outlets such as the Washington Times. It was amazing to watch how fast the story exploded and how quickly Winkler had to walk back his remarks. It’s still unclear if this incident will have any lasting damage on his future future political ambtions. For now, I’m just happy to see the whole country get to see the same Ryan Winkler that I have for years.
(A good recap on The Late Debate page.)