Please Stop Judging Racists For Saying Racist Things Publicly
The Internet is a wonderful invention that has impacted the world in tremendously positive ways. But alongside all the assorted varieties of porn, there's also a lot of angry guys posting bigoted screeds on social media.
[San Bernardino County] Deputy District Attorney Michael Selyem, who joined the D.A.'s Office 12 years ago, targeted outspoken U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, former first lady Michelle Obama, Mexican immigrants and the victim of a police shooting in Facebook and Instagram posts labeled by one critic as "hateful rhetoric."
Of Waters, Selyem said: "Being a loud-mouthed c#nt in the ghetto you would think someone would have shot this bitch by now …"
In an online argument with someone over the police shooting of a civilian, Selyem wrote, "That s—bag got exactly what he deserved. … You reap what you sow. And by the way go f— yourself you liberal s—bag."
It was unclear which police shooting Selyem was referencing, and whether or not it was an open case in San Bernardino County or had occurred elsewhere.
Selyem also posted a doctored picture of Michelle Obama holding a sign saying, "Trump grabbed my penis."
You'll recall how the media and politicians freaked out when Samantha Bee invented the word "cunt" earlier this year and unleashed it on an unsuspecting civil populace. Selyem is just the latest copycat to use the word to disparage a woman after Bee popularized its use. Thanks, Samantha!
The transphobic racist comments about former first lady Michelle Obama are very last decade. Besides, even if Obama had a penis for Donald Trump to grab, most Republicans would just dismiss the complaints as "locker room talk." However, Selyem's attack on US Rep. Maxine Waters is pretty bold. Does he know who he's dealing with here? Waters is so powerful she managed to turn the country against America's sweetheart Tomi Lahren.
San Bernardino attorney Stephen Levine called Seylem a "very disciplined and ethical member of the District Attorney's Office." After seeing screenshots of the posts Friday, Levine's opinion didn't change much.
"I of course oppose Mr. Selyem in court on a regular basis," Levine said. "I also was friends on Facebook and Instagram. I do not defend the tenor of his posts but defend his right to his beliefs. I have seen no evidence that his personal beliefs have influenced his professional responsibilities and prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt."
Whiteness is a hell of a drug but isn't there at least a conviction or two Levine might want to see overturned because the guy who prosecuted Latino gang members posted on social media images of a man in a giant sombrero with the words, "Mexican word of the day: Hide." What kind of lawyer is he?
Oh, right, he's the one-starred kind.
Why does anyone think that a virulent bigot can just turn off those sentiments when they report to work? Racism isn't a hobby or a clock-in and clock-out position.
There's also the ridiculous notion that if your own very white experiences with a fellow white person have been pleasant, their expressed bigotry is not reflective of what you believe is their good character. This ignores the obvious fact that you are not a member of the marginalized group(s) they loathe.
Life moved pretty fast on Darla Shine recently when her "racist suburban aunt" posts on social media were shared in fair context to a larger audience. Conservative "personality" Erick Erickson, who I just learned is inexplicably younger than I am, denounced all this as a "shameful" left-wing "smear" job.
Would I have a better opinion of Ms. Shine if I knew her personally and we'd spent long afternoons together swapping recipes and discussing my son's statistically high potential for autism? Who knows? That hypothetical is less relevant than the wife of Trump's new deputy chief of staff for communications holding terribly racist views (expressed so frequently her Twitter account was flushed instead of simply sanitized) or perhaps even worse having a personal website constructed with 1990s Netscape technology.
Erickson thinks it's more liberal McCarthyism to even judge a woman this thin and blonde based on what she says and does.
You would blame a woman for your own incompetence ("Hiyo!"). Erickson seems to have confused social media for someone's private journal that is faithfully written in a dingy 1970s New York apartment. Should a hardworking Trump supporter lose his job driving cabs because he "thanks God for the rain" that'll "wash all this scum off the street"? It's just like liberals to attack Christians.
Erickson, always eager to cast white cis Christian conservatives as victims, criticized the supposed "double standard" where Roseanne Barr lost her job because she was being a racist while Samantha Bee kept hers because she was being a comedian.
Bwah-ha-ha! If Erickson is unaware of the treatment that Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Pelosi and now even the not-yet-elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have received from Trump supporters on social media, he's the one "doing life wrong." He's either too stupid to find his "couch in his living room" or he's just an intellectually dishonest creep who enables racists.
Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.