When Twitter reveals racism

Minnesota DFLer Ryan Winkler followed a pretty predictable script today when he referred to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as… well, here:

Winkler deleted his tweet, then provided a fine example of digging oneself deeper.

First with the non-apology apology:

And then with the “I didn’t know it was racist” tweet.

Which stresses believability. Even if someone doesn’t know the history of referring to a black person as Uncle Tom, Winkler nonetheless used the term about Thomas for one reason: Thomas is black. He clearly knew there was some relationship between a black person and a character in earlier literature and the act of connecting the two alone on that basis is a fair definition of racism even if you’ve never heard of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Otherwise, why not refer to Uncle Scalia or Uncle Roberts?

It’s not the first time a Minnesota legislator has said something racist and then apologized by claiming ignorance. In the ’90s, a GOP state representative referred to a Capitol cafeteria worker as a “wetback,” claimed she didn’t know it was a racist term, and went on to serve several subsequent terms at the Capitol.

Of course, that was before Twitter.