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Minnesota legislator slams Justice Thomas with racist comment

When things don’t go the way a child wants, he or she throws a tantrum. They kick and scream, hold their breath, say things that are unkind and act their age.

However, when an adult acts like a 2-year-old, everyone sighs and tends to ignore their childish behavior.

Not in the case of comments made by Minnesota’s State Rep. Ryan Winkler. Perhaps he was counting on gaining points with his peers, but those of us trying to comprehend his racist comment — calling U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — “Uncle Thomas” a reference to African-Americans who are black on the outside but act like whites, was over the top. It was mean-spirited.

Disagree, but name-calling is childish.

Rep. Winkler made his remarks following the Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act, in which Justice Thomas voted with the majority in which the court said the act had provisions in it there were outdated.

Rep. Winkler said Justice Thomas, and the work of “four accomplices to race discrimination,” and one “Uncle Thomas” was wrong in striking down part of the law.

Then, following an avalanche of criticism, Winker, who is white and represents upper middle class suburbs in southwest Minneapolis, offered a conditional apology in subsequent tweets. Winkler claims he didn’t know the reference to Uncle Tom was racist.

His argument is weak. He holds an undergraduate degree in history from Harvard University and a law degree from the University of Minnesota.

“I did not understand ‘Uncle Tom’ as a racist term,” the Washington Times reported, “and there seems to be some debate about it. I do apologize for it, however.” That’s an apology?

Either Rep. Winkler slept through his American history classes at Harvard, when discussion centered around the problems of racism in American history following the Civil War, or he should ask for some of his money back from Harvard for not covering the topic of racism.

Mr. Winkler, what you said is not Minnesota nice.

Keith Hansen


We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others.

Will Rogers

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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