The GOP’s Rosa Parks Tweet Was Lazy Politics

There’s no shortcut for Republicans to get right with voters of color.

Rosa Parks escorted by then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert as she arrived for ceremonies awarding her the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999
Rosa Parks escorted by then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert as she arrived for ceremonies awarding her the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999 GEORGE BRIDGES/AFP/Getty Images

When your party’s presidential candidate can only muster a dismal 6 percent of black votes, 27 percent of Latino votes and 26 percent of Asian-American votes in the most recent election, one thing should be abundantly clear: You can’t expect to solve that problem with a tweet.

But in a roundabout way, that’s how the GOP wound up embarrassing itself this week after someone at the helm of their official Twitter account unintentionally (we hope) declared an “ending” to racism on the way to celebrating the legacy of civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

By now you’ve already read about it, but here it is again, just in case:

Instead of reinforcing the link between the Republican Party and a heroine of the civil rights era, their errant 94-character missive prompted across-the-board ridicule in the form of a (hilarious) #RacismEndedWhen trending hashtag, Juli Weiner’s (biting) summation in Vanity Fair that “the cell service is just bad at Niggerhead Ranch,” an enlightening primer from Salon’s Josh Eidelson on Parks’ progressive roots and another GOP “autopsy,” of sorts, from WaPo’s Jonathan Capehart, who declared the party “dead” to the constituencies of color that it struggled reach in 2012.

You could argue, as the Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky wrote Tuesday, that like any true “gaffe,” the GOP’s errant tweet wasn’t merely a syntax error or faux pas, but an unintended exposition of contemporary Republicans’ skewed views on race.

But at a minimum—and even if you give Republicans the benefit of the doubt—the Rosa Parks tweet reflects a laziness in the way that they’re trying to establish ties with constituents of color.

They’re way too far in the red with black, brown and yellow voters to get right just by sending out a few tweets of admiration for the most visible civil rights icons—after all, there’s no one at this point who would cop to being anything other than pro-Rosa Parks.

Shouting her out is the Twitter equivalent of taking a bold stand in favor of pizza, beer and Saturday.

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