Texas School Board member invokes KKK in Facebook joke

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:

Chris Harris KKK

Yes, a school board member thought this was a good idea.

Using Facebook, Hooks made two apologies for the post.  In the first, he said that the post “was taken out of context” and that he was “by no way racist”
Chris Harris First Apology
The second post was far more comprehensive and apologetic:
Chris Harris 2nd Apology
It’s pretty clear, based on the style and grammar difference between the two posts, that Hooks had professional help in writing apology #2.
Then, in another statement, the story gets weirder: Harris said that the KKK post was actually inspired by people blasting him for “liking” a story about Darren Wilson not being indicted for the murder of Michael Brown:
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.

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