After Republican Senator John Kennedy declared “racist” one of the worst insults Americans might face during Supreme Court confirmation hearings, social media took up the challenge, deluging the Louisianan with alternatives.
Kennedy uttered the offending phrase in defense of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the conservative lawmaker President Donald Trump nominated to the Supreme Court last month to fill the vacancy left by the deceased Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“I know, for someone unaccustomed to it, that it hurts to be called a racist. I think it’s one of the worst things you can call an American,” Kennedy declared in his trademark southern drawl.
We all watched the hearings for Justice Kavanaugh. It was a freak show. It looked like the cantina bar scene out of Star Wars. Here’s hoping people have more respect for the #SCOTUS process this time. pic.twitter.com/7s2IQ9X7ls
— John Kennedy (@SenJohnKennedy) October 12, 2020
That was too much for Twitter. A major contingent had already bristled when Kennedy likened 2018’s confirmation hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the “cantina scene from Star Wars” earlier in the hearing, and weren’t about to let this one go.
Many hit back at Kennedy by reminding him there’s a much better-known racial epithet most people would find more hurtful than “racist” – though most stopped short of typing it out.
Try being 10 years old and being called ni&&er by the white principal of a newly integrated south Georgia elementary school over the intercom. Four little Black girls were called this horrid slur. Because the Black school had homecoming we too had to leave school early.
— Native Wakandan Here on H1B Work Visa (@MargueriteEHill) October 12, 2020
“IT WAS A FREAKSHOW!!!” shrieks Sen. John Kennedy about the Kavanaugh hearings, then says that being called a racist is “one of the worst things you can call an American.” I can think of a few other words that are worse.
— Jill Filipovic (@JillFilipovic) October 12, 2020
Others slammed the “privileged” senator for his apparent ignorance.
On behalf of myself, my family, my community, and my ancestors, I deeply beg to differ.What a privilege it is to believe that being called out for racism is worse than the acts of racism themselves.It hurts to even have to have this type of conversation. https://t.co/ONFMDyqoea
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) October 12, 2020
Quite a few rolled their eyes, suggesting if being called ‘racist’ offended Kennedy so much, there was an easy way to avoid it.
Well it’s definitely one of the worst things an American can be, not clear if it’s one of the worst things to be called
— the sixler (@Thesixler) October 12, 2020
Though others managed to slip a little humor into their attacks on Kennedy, musing on what sort of insult might bother him more.
The only thing worse than being called racist is to be mistaken for John Kennedy and called a shriveled prune.
— I’m A Frayed Knot (@corsetmaster1) October 12, 2020
The Barrett confirmation hearings have been predictably contentious, as the media establishment has made her out to be a fanatical Christian unable to separate her religious beliefs from her legislative principles. As the third judge nominated by President Donald Trump to the Supreme Court, she represents something of a point of no return for Democrats who had hoped to shift the court back toward their “side” within their lifetimes.
Additionally, many have likened her confirmation in what could be the twilight hours of the Trump presidency to the failed confirmation hearings for Judge Merrick Garland, the justice nominated by former president Barack Obama during the last few months of his presidency. Senate Republicans refused to hold a confirmation hearing on Garland, reasoning Obama would be out of office in a matter of months and had no right to appoint another justice.