On Monday, Burnt Orange Report broke the story about UT College Republicans President Cassie Wright's racist tweet:
There are two components of Wright's statement that make it so harmful to our political dialogue.
First, Wright's statement is deeply racist. Her chosen language implies that because President Obama is black, he uses crack cocaine, a drug historically associated with impoverished African-Americans. She then celebrates her statement with “Holla,” a term that derives from African-American slang.
Second, Wright degrades the president with a blasphemous claim that he “snorts a lot of crack.” Libel like this precludes any useful political dialogue because it is both abhorrent and false. Wright is aiming to assassinate President Obama's character by any means necessary, not to exchange genuine political views.
Yesterday, Wright took proud credit for the comment, which she has kept posted on her Twitter account.
On Facebook, Wright wrote this:
The rest of the Facebook thread is here.
Wright is arguing that because her tweet references a song celebrating the election of the first African-American president, it's not racist. Wright argues that she's only pointing out the irony of a song celebrating the character of a former “drug user.” In Wright's view, President Obama is not to be defined by his service to our country or by political views, but by his admission that he used some drugs on occasion during his early twenties.
That's an abysmal attempt to defend her statement. Once more, Wright is preventing constructive dialogue by dehumanizing the president, this time through defining him only as a former “drug user.”
The racial overtones of this characterization are clear, just as they were in the original statement. This is the same type of racially infused rhetoric that Wright's fellow Republicans use when they challenge President Obama's birth certificate in the face of all evidence and imply he didn't earn admission into Harvard.
Doubling down on her comments via Facebook was only the first step Wright took to stand by her statement.
Yesterday, after a period of Twitter silence, Wright started retweeting a handful of angry, threatening comments from African-American males about her statement. With these isolated comments, Wright crafted an image of herself as the victim of violent African-American men out to hurt her.
“Seems these people have a lot of opinions. But I don't understand why @HuffingtonPost isn't reporting…?” Wright tweeted afterwards.
Wright's visual and rhetorical characterization of “these people” as the violent offenders and herself as a victim harks back to the archetypal racist image of black men's aggression against white women. In falsely stereotyping the response to her comment, Wright is neglectfully ignoring the numerous African-American publications that published rebukes of her statement.
And to answer Wright's question – the story here is not about random Twitter users, it is about the president of the University of Texas College Republicans making a clearly racist statement and proudly standing by it.Everyone is denouncing Wright's statement.
The spokesperson for the College Republicans apologized for Wright's statement, which has brought national shame upon the club for the second time in a month. The University of Texas Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly said in a statement: “Sunday's Twitter posting about President Obama was offensive and embarrassing.” The UT University Democrats said in a statement: “Ms. Wright's tweet was inappropriate and unfortunate due to its racist nature and blatant disrespect for the President of the United States.”
Well, almost everyone is denouncing Wright's comment.
There is one person who agrees with her: former UT College Republicans President Lauren Pierce. On Sunday, Pierce retweeted Wright's statement, though she has since deleted the retweet.
Yesterday, Pierce took to Twitter to voice the following complaint:
Yikes. Pierce's enthusiasm is deeply unnerving.
Wright's lack of remorse is horrifying.
Let's hope that enough College Republicans reject this representation of their club to start the process of reform.
Media Coverage of Cassie Wright Scandal
Huffington Post – Cassie Wright, University Of Texas College Republicans President, Allegedly Tweets 'Crack' Rhyme About President Obama
Countdown with Keith Olbermann – Worst Persons: Cassie Wright, NRA News team and Gov. Scott Walker
Gawker – Replacement for Offensive College GOP Prez Is Even More Offensive
WFAA – Tweet from UT student leader suggests Obama uses drugs
The Root – President of College Republicans: 'Black President Snorts Crack'
Daily Mail – 'My president is black, he snorts a lot of crack': ANOTHER Texas College Republican leader in hot water over 'racist' remarks about Obama
The Alcalde – Second UT College Republican President Fails at Twitter
The Daily Texan – A second UT Republican leader catches flak for Twitter activity
KVUE – Second UT student leader sends out questionable Tweet