On the list of stupid things for an elected official to do, posting a picture of a Ku Klux Klan member with the caption “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” ranks pretty high. And, sadly, that’s exactly what Chris Harris did. Harris, a school board member of the Hooks Independent School District in Hooks, Texas, made this post:
My public support for our legal system and the outcome that it yielded in the case of the unfortunate shooting death of Michael Brown, was misinterpreted by others on Facebook as an intolerant and racially motivated position. I felt that my character was being misjudged by complete strangers, and I responded emotionally rather than intelligently.
After originally attempting to keep his position, Harris has since announced that he intends to resign.
There are a few lessons here:
- First, really? An elected official makes a comment about Ferguson and is surprised when a negative reaction ensues? Elected officials should always expect controversy, particularly when you are discussing something controversial. And they certainly should not react in an emotional and negative manner.
- Second, apologize right the first time. “Taken out of context” is an excuse. The post was incredibly dumb for anyone to make, let alone a school board member. Just say you are sorry the once, the first time.
- Third: talk to the media. Hooks refused to talk to news crews who tried to interview him. Real transparency requires openness with the media, not hiding behind a well-written statement.