Minnesota State Rep. Ryan Winkler, a Democrat, was so incensed by the Supreme Court's decision to strike down a key part of the Voting Rights Act that he called Justice Clarence Thomas an "Uncle Thomas" in a Tuesday tweet.
Winkler's since-deleted tweet said: "VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas," according to the Minnesota Star Tribune. His comment was made in reference to the "Uncle Tom" epithet.
Winkler immediately issued a statement apologizing for his Twitter remark:
“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," Winkler began.
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.
Winkler's comment drew ire on Twitter, and the lawmaker issued a series of tweets debating his use of the term with other users, including conservative activists.
@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
Deleted Tweet causing offense regarding Justice Thomas. I apologize for it, but believe VRA decision does abet racism.— Ryan Winkler (@RepRyanWinkler) June 25, 2013
I didn't think it was offensive to suggest that Justice Thomas should be even more concerned about racial discrimination than colleagues.— Ryan Winkler (@RepRyanWinkler) June 25, 2013
Asked whether his slip-up would hurt his political career, Winkler said: "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."
But if such a suggestion is offensive, I apologize.— Ryan Winkler (@RepRyanWinkler) June 25, 2013