J.T. Smith is the Democratic congressional candidate in Alabama’s Third District, running against Congressman Mike Rodgers. It’s worth noting that Smith had previously stirred up controversy on Twitter by saying that Republicans wanted to repeal Obamacare because they viewed the most vulnerable in society women, children and seniors) as “prey.”
More recently, Smith sent out this unquestionably stupid tweet that on Labor Day:
ISIS, or ISIL, stands for the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria. It is a terror group, operating in the Middle East, and it likely poses a threat to the United States. It has made recent headlines for beheading two American journalists.
At first, Smith tried to explain his actions via his Facebook page:
Let me clarify my tweet where I compared the republican party to ISIS. Twitter does not allow for context, but this does. I am not saying that the republican party is beheading people in the streets, obviously. Here in America, because we are a civilized democracy, we do not use violence against each other as a means of control. The republicans have used the economy as a means to terrorize the people of this country…
You will notice that the statement is full of explanation and completely short on apology. So, at first, that’s the path that Smith chose to take. To his credit, Smith did (eventually) delete the offending tweet and sent out (what appears to be) a heartfelt apology:
The entire incident was handled very poorly, until the end. Smith never, ever should have sent such a ridiculous and patently offensive tweet, though he is not the first political figure to make overtly offensive comparisons. Of course, the fact that Smith didn’t apologize right away made the matter even worse.
Thus, two lessons from this incident:
1) Don’t compare major political parties to terrorist groups that regularly behead Americans. Not sure why I’d need to type that out, but there you go.
2) When you are in a hole, stop digging. More specifically, when you make a major social media mistake, don’t explain, apologize.
Anything else to add? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!