Prof. denies calling Ben Carson a ‘coon,’ says words were ‘twisted’ by conservatives
Anthea Butler, the black University of Pennsylvania professor who sent a tweet implying that Ben Carson is a “coon,” claims that her words have been “twisted” by conservatives.
“If only there was a ‘coon of the year award,” Butler tweeted on September 29, in response to a tweet from Daily Beast editor at large Goldie Taylor containing a link to a Sports Illustrated article in which Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson acknowledged the right of NASCAR fans to fly Confederate flags during races.
Butler deleted the offending tweet upon being contacted for comment, but not before Campus Reform captured a screenshot and broke the story on October 6.
Within 20 minutes of the story being published, Butler reacted with two tweets explaining that she would be locking her account, screenshots of which were provided to Campus Reform by an anonymous source who was among the “confirmed followers” still able to see Butler’s profile.
“So my haters at Campus Reform are at it again, so for my regular followers, I’m locked until the horde rides by,” she wrote in the first tweet. “This act is so tired…”
She immediately followed up with another tweet, saying, “For my academic followers, here’s a reminder. Anything you say on twitter will be twisted to fit a narrative of racism, et [sic] by conservatives.”
The source of her consternation, she subsequently explained, is that “Lies by conservative groups go further than any truths out there, sadly. So yea.”
About an hour later, Butler responded to a tweet from one of her followers expressing sympathy for the “harassment” she faced over the original tweet. After thanking the sender, Butler asserted that “More important things are happening in the world, but they don’t care. Bullies.”
Butler tweeted again that afternoon to report: “My inbox today, for something i [sic] did not say.” Enclosed was an indefensible tweet from another user employing not only the label she had applied to Dr. Carson, but also a number of other racial slurs.
Although Butler has taken pains to avoid making public statements on the matter, her case was taken up Wednesday by Mediaite columnist Tommy Christopher, who endeavored to offer an alternative interpretation of her tweet.
“The sentence in Professor Butler’s tweet could have been completed in any number of ways,” Christopher declaims, offering the following hypothetical conclusion as an example:
“If only there was a ‘coon of the year’ award…Ben Carson could tell NASCAR to hold the ceremony, as long as it’s a majority of people in the area who want to give out the award, and it was on private property.”
Somewhat confusingly, he then proceeds to assert that within the black community, the word coon “can also apply to those who reinforce stereotypes … or who support policies that are viewed as harmful to black people.” He does not explain why, if that had been Butler’s intended meaning, it should be necessary to speculate on how she might have elaborated beyond the ellipsis in her original tweet.
Juan Williams, on the other hand, took severe umbrage at Butler’s tweet, making the argument on Fox News Channel’s “The Five” Wednesday afternoon that she should be fired.
“I think she should be removed from her job immediately,” Williams said, adding, “If anybody had this about President Obama in 2008, they would have been fired. Gone. No excuses.”
Addressing rationalizations such as the one offered by Christopher, Williams observed that “There’s no substance to this,” and opined that “It seems to me to be totally a racial putdown.”
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