Sussex college censures GOP chairman over ‘eradicate Islam’ meme
The Board of Trustees at Sussex County Community College voted 7-2 to censure Vice Chairman Jerry Scanlan over anti-Muslim posts he shared through the county Republican Committee's Twitter account.
Scanlan, the Sussex County Republican chairman, said he had "total control" of the account and was trying to increase the number of followers by retweeting "trains," which he described as a practice of retweeting material from other accounts with similar goals. He has since given up his control of the party's social media.
One of those tweets was a message to "eradicate Islam from every town, city, county and state in our homeland." Another was a meme showing the four progressive Democratic congresswomen known as the "Squad," calling them the "Jihad Squad."
A resolution denouncing Scanlan and his actions was read aloud at the special meeting on Tuesday.
The resolution said that those in positions of leadership at a college have a higher duty to treat all equally and without prejudice. Scanlan's actions were described as "entirely inappropriate and completely inconsistent" with that responsibility.
The resolution also stated that the board of trustees "condemns and disavows" the content that Scanlan tweeted on the account.
Scanlan, who was not at the special meeting, was stripped of his chairmanship. The resolution also included a vote of no confidence in Scanlan's ability to continue as a trustee. Scanlan has declined to step down from the board.
Two trustees spoke in support of Scanlan.
"I know Jerry. I've known him a long time and I know he's not racist," Trustee Rachel Geraci said, adding that she accepted his apology.
Trustee Paul Crowley, who said he had to learn what a retweet was, said he has a right to tweet messages even if others don't like them.
"I do believe in the freedom of speech and the respect that I do give for people who have divergent speech, even if you hate what they are saying," Crowley said.
Both Crowley and Geraci voted against the resolution.
Scanlan's apology said that he re-tweeted items on the account 20,000 times, "rarely posting original content, none of which is being questioned." But he said Twitter sometimes contains "off-color and inappropriate content" and said that "on a few occasions, I was not thorough enough in reading/viewing what I re-tweeted."
"What I can say, is that I made human errors of judgment, for which I apologize and can assure you that processes are currently being developed to prevent these unfortunate mistakes from happening again. I ask for your forgiveness," Scanlan wrote.
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