A Poorly Worded RNC Tweet On Rosa Parks Backfires

Dec 2, 2013
Originally published on December 2, 2013 6:06 pm

If nothing else, the Republican National Committee has gotten people thinking about Rosa Parks.

Of course, the RNC also gave its political opponents a chance to mock the GOP with its poorly worded tweet Saturday marking the 58th anniversary of the African-American civil rights activist's refusal to give up her bus seat to a white person, an event that sparked the Montgomery bus boycott.

"Today we remember Rosa Parks' bold stand and her role in ending racism," read the tweet that caused Twitter rage, triggering a snark avalanche on the RNC's alleged cluelessness about racism's continued existence.

The RNC acknowledged the problem hours later: "Previous tweet should have read 'Today we remember Rosa Parks' bold stand and her role in fighting to end racism.' "

In other words, we get it, was the RNC's message.

Orlando Watson, RNC communications director for black media, told me that the flawed tweet was preceded by a longer statement. That statement accurately reflected the reality of race relations since 1955.

While the gaffe was relatively minor, it plays into the damaging narrative about the Republican Party — that it only pays lip service to the notion of increasing its appeal to minority voters. Indeed, from voter ID to immigration, the party is widely viewed as hostile to minority voters. So the tweet fit a stereotype about the party.

It's the same weakness the GOP's "Growth and Opportunity Project" — also known as its post-2012 general election "autopsy" — spoke to. Even some high-profile African-Americans like J.C. Watts, the former congressman from Oklahoma, have conceded that the party's efforts, including the GOP project on the minority outreach front, have so far been more rhetoric than reality.

It may be a long time, if ever, before the GOP reaches the point where a misstep like the Rosa Parks tweet isn't read by the left like a Freudian slip. But it's probably more doable than, say, ending racism.


* The post was revised at 5:33 pm ET to reflect that the RNC's tweeted correction came hours after the flawed tweet, not the next day as I first reported.

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