Minnesota Republican Party Chair Jennifer Carnahan says Democrats have been calling her with threats and sending Facebook messages demeaning her with racial slurs in response to a racist post a Republican put on a Minnesota GOP Facebook page.
The post, which made which racist comments about Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), has since been removed. Carnahan apologized for the post and says the person who made it on the 7th Congressional GOP Facebook page has been dismissed.
The GOP post appeared shortly after Carnahan, a relative unknown in politics, was elected party chair on the fourth ballot defeating better known candidates such as former state Senator David Hann and state party Deputy Director Chris Fields. Following her election, Carnahan said the DFL is “going to have a really hard time calling us the party of racists and sexists. Look at who our party base just elected.” Carnahan is Asian. She was adopted from South Korea.
Carnahan says the racist Facebook post prompted Democrats to contact her using Asian racial slurs.
“They’re saying, ‘I’m a Democrat and this is what I think about you.’ And then they’re making very inappropriate… they’re using very derogatory racial slurs against Asian people. And it’s not OK,” she said on an interview on AM950 radio’s Mike McIntee Show. “So they think it’s OK because one individual made a mistake and I think we addressed in a very professional manner but the answer to that is to come after and send me Facebook messages throughout the past couple days with inappropriate racial slurs? And what does that say about the Democrat Party?”
“I’ve been getting calls throughout the day today of people threatening me. And again it just, this is not a solution to making, you know, our country, our state, the people… better. It’s actually just very disappointing to me to see that happen.”
Democratic Party Chair Responds
Video at top: Carnahan on threats
Audio at bottom: entire radio interview
Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) Party Chair Ken Martin said he was also “disheartened” by the racial comments made to Carnahan saying there is “no place for that in our political discourse.” However, Martin said he sees a difference between an official post of the party and individual comments by people who may or may not be connected with a political party.
The racist GOP Facebook post is not an isolated incident. In November 2015, the same CD7 GOP group made a racist post on Facebook and Twitter while Carnahan’s predecessor Keith Downey was chair. After that post, Downey apologized and imposed a social media moratorium on the district.
Carnahan was asked what the Minnesota GOP has learned from this latest incident. “The biggest learning for us as a party is we need to be more mindful of how we’re managing our social media. Because when someone posts one thing, even if it is meant as a joke, or not even an appropriate joke at that, you know it gets out there.”
Racist posts like those from the Minnesota CD7 GOP group and comments and actions from President Donald Trump that many regard as racist or sexist have contributed to an image problem for Minnesota Republicans. Carnahan says, “that may be the perception with some people.” But she says the perception that “Republicans are racist and sexist is just wrong. There are many people in this country who might have biases or may be unaware of things but, you can’t, you can’t pin that on one party.”
That unawareness of what is considered a slur extended to Carnahan herself. During the interview she repeatedly referred to the “Democrat party,” which is regarded as a slur because the proper name is the Democratic party. Asked if she was aware of that, she paused for a moment, laughed and said, “Well it wasn’t intended that way.”
Martin says he isn’t offended by Carnahan’s “Democrat party” slur even though he says the term is systematically used by Republicans as a “deliberate and intentional attempt to demean the Democratic party.” Martin says Carnahan is new to politics and she is “learning on the job.” Martin says he plans to meet with her on Friday to “welcome her to the club of state party chairs — the most thankless job in the state.”
Asked about her solution for fixing Minnesota Republican Party’s racist image problem, Carnahan says, “Well again, it’s just getting out there and championing our values, presenting our brand in a way that will compel people to open their hearts and minds to what we stand for and who we are.”
Transcript of selected portions of interview:
Carnahan: The biggest learning for us as a party is we need to be more mindful of how we’re managing our social media. Because when someone posts one thing, even if it is meant as a joke, or not even an appropriate joke at that, you know it gets out there. So I think as a party what we did is we addressed it in a very quick manner. I think we handled it in the right way by asking for the immediate resignation of the individual responsible for that post and as you know we went out there and publicly apologized and acknowledged that post and that action is not representative of our values or our party.
What’s been the most disheartening to me after all that happened, because I do believe the way we handled it was the right way. We came together as a party as a leadership team. We made some very quick decisions which I think were the right decisions and handled it. And I think from that people need to move forward. And again we apologize but, when I’m saying where I’ve been really disheartened is I’ve now been getting a lot of hate mail and people have been making racial slurs to me which are highly inappropriate over Facebook messaging and I’ve been getting calls throughout the day today of people threatening me. And again it just, this is not a solution to making you know our country, our state, the people, you know better. It’s actually just very disappointing to me to see that happen.
When people make sweeping generalizations by calling an entire group of people racist, saying we’re all racists and sexist, that to me is very dangerous. Because you know in the incident that happened this week it was the action of one person. That should not be extrapolated to be representative of an entire group of people because it’s just not true.
To me when the Democrats or the left keeps saying that about us, that’s concerning to me. Because you know the issue issue we have in our country right now is our country is so polar… everyone is so divided. There’s so much polarization. And that’s not helping anyone in our country. So from my perspective we need to learn to try and come together a little better even though we’re on opposite sides of the political fence and also just be respectful. When you call an entire group of people racist and sexist that’s very disrespectful and to me that’s a little bit of bias. So that’s kind of like the pot calling the kettle black in my opinion.
That may be the perception with some people, but for example the perception I have is when I’m getting hate mail and I’m getting you know Facebook messages that have come across every day now since this happened making racial slurs at me from people saying that I’m a Democrat? Well with all due respect, you know, what perception does that give me of the Democrats? Because that’s not appropriate.
McIntee: So people are saying… are using racial slurs to you and saying you’re a Democrat. Are they Republicans who are saying it is that why they are saying it?
Carnahan: No I’m sorry they’re saying they’re Democrats. They’re saying I’m a Democrat and this is what I think about you. And then they’re making very inappropriate…. they’re using very derogatory racial slurs against asian people. And it’s not OK. So they think it’s OK because one individual made a mistake and I think we addressed in a very professional manner but the answer to that is to come after and send me Facebook messages throughout the past couple days with inappropriate racial slurs? And what does that say about the Democrat Party? And what does that say about the Democrat Party when their presidential candidate called half this country a basket of deplorables ? So my perception about it is to say that the Republicans are racist and sexist is just wrong. There are many people in this country who might have biases or maybe unaware of things but, you can’t, you can’t pin that on one party.
McIntee: And when you say that people are unaware things, sometimes people are unaware that they may be doing that somebody considers offensive, like when you call it the Democrat Party, did you know that’s a slur? It’s the Democratic party.
Carnahan: Well (laughs) it wasn’t intended that way. So.
McIntee: OK Good because I notice that and it usually happens people , and you can look this up if you want. I won’t go into all the background on it. But political discourse in itself. Does political discourse need to be just toned down? The partisanship here. Do the partisans just need to tone it down a little bit? Is that what we’re talking about?
Carahan: You know its… I think there’s opportunities, as I said before, for our country to come together and not be so divisive but you know individuals or individual people are passionate about what they feel passionate about. But I think we all , all us people need to be mindful and respect that at the end of the day, we’re all just humans on this earth trying to live out our dreams and be happy. So I think we need to remember that.