Roy S. Johnson: County GOP Chairman’s use of KKK image may have been a mistake; it was not a mistake
This is an opinion column.
There are errors. And there are mistakes.
What happened in Lawrence County may have been a mistake. It was not a mistake.
Shanon Terry chairs the county’s Republican Party, recently replacing longtime chairman Daniel Stover. Terry announced the transition on the party’s Facebook page on Sunday, August 15. He thanked Stover for his “hard work” in service to the party. And make a mistake.
Terry decorated the pole with an illustration of the GOP’s symbolic elephant, an illustration he found in a “google search (sic)”, which he later shared. An illustration in which three white KKK hoods are drawn in the gaps between the four legs of the beast.
Oops. Terry called it a “mistake”, noting in an apology the next day that it appeared “temporarily” until it was “later discovered to have hidden images…”
Mistake? Certainly. Mistake? No.
You see, the hoods of the KKK are not “hidden” at all. Of course, there’s a bit of a Rorschach trick for the eyes and the mind – a tribute to the famous inkblot tests originally devised by Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach to discern disturbances in thought patterns in schizophrenia and now widely used in research on emotional and personality disorders. and intelligence. But hidden? No way.
Not to those who see.
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Mother Jones magazine commissioned the work two years ago from Philadelphia illustrator and designer Woody Harrington “to reference how white supremacy is taking over the GOP.” Managing Editor Clara Jeffery shared in a tweet.
It accompanied an article with the headline: “The Republican Party is Racist and Soulless. Just ask this veteran GOP strategist.
Stuart Stevens is the strategist; he starred as Mitt Romney’s presidential bid in 2012. In the piece, he said Republicans were “weaponizing” bigotry during the 2020 campaign. (Duh.) “We created this. This isn’t did not happen by chance,” he said.
Not of those who discern.
Before the illustration took center stage and truly became the Google search algorithm’s favorite “GOP elephant”, I showed it to a few people. I asked: What do you see? “Klan hoods” or “an elephant and… Klan hoods?” were roughly the two categories of responses. My research was not exactly scientific, I admit: all my respondents were black.
Terry is not.
The county GOP chairman is a longtime member of the Lawrence County School Board, representing District Four. I’m sure someone in this system is teaching the dangers of grabbing an image from the internet. There are copyright laws (the GOP elephant/KKK image is indeed copyrighted) – and more subtle pitfalls. As the way one sees (or does not see) an image be an involuntary Rorschach, a reflection of emotional disturbances and personality and intelligence.
In his apology, Terry said – in classic prose written by a lawyer – the “[KKK hoods] …do not represent the opinions or beliefs of the Lawrence County Republican Party…As President, I take full responsibility for the error.
Error, okay. Mistake? Not in this life.
Not when the Republican Party continually demonstrates how blind to racism it is.
So blind he can’t (or won’t) see how his incessant rants about critical race theory are attacks on truth, on education, on teaching the fullness of our nation’s history because some parts do their (not their children) “feel bad”.
So unconscious, so obtuse to how his annihilation of the rights of women to make their own health and life decisions impact low-income women of color. (Rich white women will always find a way.)
so ignorant ignores fraud in its haughty legislation combating non-existent voter fraud — bills blatantly designed to crush voter turnout in black and brown constituencies.
so scared of the same recognize racism – not to mention sit down, listen to how it affects the lives of too many Americans, and help find ways to crush this— he even pushes his most prominent black Republicans to publicly declare that “America is not a racist country.”
This Terry – only one in 10 Lawrence County residents are black, but come on! – did not see three KKK balaclavas clearly integrated into the illustration he selected reflects the national GOP’s blindness to the racist effects of its policies and the national racism it firmly ignores.
And this: If the KKK hoods “really don’t represent the opinions or beliefs of the Lawrence County Republican Party,” then Terry should relinquish his seat on the school board and step down as the face of the party in the county. Truth: Alabama GOP Chairman (and butterfly farmer) John Wahl, who has been blindly silent on ‘mistake’, should demand Terry step down – if the balaclavas does not reflect….
Errors occur; errors no.
Anyone can see this. Well, almost anyone.
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Roy S. Johnson is a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary and winner of the 2021 Edward R. Morrow Prize for Podcasts: “Unjustifiable,” co-hosted with John Archibald. His column appears in The Birmingham News and AL.com, as well as the Huntsville Times, the Mobile Press-Register. Join it at [email protected]follow him on twitter.com/roysjor on Instagram @roysj.