MN Rep. Ryan Winkler calls Justice Thomas "Uncle Thomas" in Voting Rights Act tweet


The 'Twitter' logo is seen on a tablet screen on Dec. 4, 2012 in Paris. A French court ruled that Twitter could face fines if it does not release the names of users that tweeted anti-Semitic content.


Lionel Bonaventure

Minnesota State Rep. Ryan Winkler on Tuesday tried to retract a racially-charged tweet referring to Justice Clarence Thomas as "Uncle Thomas," according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

The lawmaker has apologized for describing the five Supreme Court justices who voted against  the Voting Rights Act as "four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas," reported the Star-Tribune

Winkler, a fourth-term Democrat, also claimed not to understand the reference, despite it being widely seen as a racial slur. 

"I did not understand 'Uncle Tom' as a racist term, and there seems to be some debate about it," he tweeted, according to the Star-Tribune. "I do apologize for it, however."

"I didn't think it was offensive to suggest that Justice Thomas should be even more concerned about racial discrimination than colleagues," he continued on Twitter. "But if such a suggestion is offensive, I apologize."

Even later, he tweeted: "Deleted Tweet causing offense regarding Justice Thomas. I apologize for it, but believe VRA decision does abet racism." 

Twitter, predictably, has not been particularly forgiving, however: 

[View the story "\"Uncle Thomas\" tweet sees outcry" on Storify]