It is the year 2020 and garden-variety racists running for public office are somehow still relying on the age-old excuse that it wasn’t them who wrote those racist posts that just happen to be shared on their social media accounts, it was a hacker. It’s almost comforting that some things don’t change!
The “it wasn’t me” defense has most lately been employed by Ted Howze, a veterinarian and Republican candidate for Congress in a California swing district, whose not-very-well-hidden penchant for sharing incredibly racist, Islamophobic, and sexist posts on his Facebook and Twitter accounts was recently the subject of several Politico articles.
Howze’s Facebook and Twitter posts, from a period of time between January 2017 and March 2018, were deleted shortly after he announced his candidacy, but a California-based activist helpfully took screenshots. Politico described their contents:
One post described the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a rapist and a pedophile. Another mocked a survivor of the Parkland high school shooting. A third accused Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) of “hitting the crack pipe too hard.”
The commentary was among now-deleted social media posts and retweets from the accounts of Ted Howze, a Republican challenging Democratic Rep. Josh Harder in a battleground district in California. Others described Islam as “a death cult” and suggested Hillary Clinton and her 2016 campaign chairman, John Podesta, were responsible for the murder of Seth Rich, a former Democratic National Committee staffer.
Other posts called on all DACA recipients to be deported. “#DeportThemAll,” he wrote in one tweet. After Politico began poking around, Howze tried to claim that he’s not a bigot, he’s just an idiot who freely gives out his account passwords. “Like many folks in my middle-age group, I learned the very hard lesson to never allow anyone access to social media accounts or passwords,” Howze told Politico in a statement. “I made the mistake of allowing others access to these accounts unknowingly—and I am angered, horrified and extremely offended that these ugly ideas were shared or posted by those individuals several years ago.”
If he were, as he wrote, “angered” and “extremely offended” by those “ugly ideas” that were not posted by him, wouldn’t he have deleted them the moment he saw them, rather than leave them up until he announced his run for office? But what do I know! Subsequent reporting raises some extreme doubts about Howze’s claim that it was someone else who posted to his accounts. According to Politico, other posts that remained up on his personal Facebook account were equally as offensive, and ranged from linking DACA recipients to pedophiles to describing Black Lives Matter activists as “political slaves.”
More, from Politico:
In the recently uncovered posts, Howze accused the Clintons of leaving “a trail of bodies as long as the Mississippi River behind them.” He compared recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to pedophiles: “Surely they understand that pedophiles are ‘dreamers’ too.” Addressing the Black Lives Matter movement in a post, he wrote: “As a culture 95% percent of you vote in lock step for the same political party who held you as physical slaves and now wish to keep you as political slaves unable to effect any real change for the better.”
But Howze seems to have a particular love for Islamophobia. Here’s one example of what he felt free to share on his Facebook page:
On June 16, 2016, he shared a meme of a gun salesman addressing an unseen customer. The text overlaying the photo suggested breaking an Islamic dietary law should be a litmus test for purchasing it: “Yes sir, your background check came back fine. But I gotta see you eat some bacon or its no sale!”
And another, in which he speculated about Barack Obama being Muslim:
In September 2016, he speculated on why Obama was admitting more “muslim ‘refugees’”: “Could it be because Obama’s father is Muslim? Or that his step father Lolo Soetoro is Muslim? Could it be that during his time living in Indonesia, which doesn’t allow dual citizenships, that Obama’s school records identify him as Barry Soetoro, an Indonesian citizen of Muslim faith!”
And in a particularly egregious example, he posted “a question of the day,” which was, “Can a Muslim ever truly be a good American citizen?” His answer, unsurprisingly for such a committed bigot, was no.
When faced with this new evidence, his campaign described it as “fake news.” But unfortunately for Howze, even his fellow Republicans—including some of the ones he’s hoping to join in Congress, like fellow racist and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy—are distancing themselves from him.
“The content in question on Mr. Howze’s social media channels is disappointing and disturbing. Bigotry and hateful rhetoric—in any form—have no place in the Republican Party,” McCarthy wrote in a laughable statement, describing the posts as “unacceptable.”