Delaware mayor calls retweet of offensive post about Irish slavery an 'innocent mistake'

Jeanne Kuang
Delaware mayor calls retweet of offensive post about Irish slavery an 'innocent mistake'

WILMINGTON, Del. — A social media account of Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki retweeted a trope over St. Patrick's Day weekend related to Irish Americans that is popular among white nationalists.

Late Monday, the Mayor's Office released a statement saying the post was "inadvertently retweeted making it appear as though he had shared the offensive tweet." Later in the statement, Purzycki called it an "innocent mistake."

Purzycki's official Twitter account retweeted, or shared on his Twitter feed, a statement that was posted in reply to a picture of Purzycki with Sen. Chris Coons and Gov. John Carney at Wilmington's St. Patrick's Day parade. 

The mayor's retweet was deleted after his office received questions from The News Journal. The Mayor's Office said it has since reset the Twitter account's password and "added additional authentication controls."

The statement, reposted by a right-wing Twitter account, was a screenshot of another Tweet that saluted "the Irish people [whose] families were enslaved, came to the US for a better life, worked in factories & then got called 'privileged' & blamed for slavery by beta male, soy drinking hypocrites & depressed feminists."

The person who posted the original tweet said in an email to The News Journal that, "I’m not a nationalist," and went on to write that he has offered solutions to curb extremism.

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki's Twitter account, as seen around 2 p.m. Monday, March 18, 2019

In a statement released earlier Monday, Purzycki's deputy chief of staff for policy and communications, John Rago, said "someone not associated with our office intentionally set out to connect the mayor to an offensive post. Our office retweeted the original tweet not knowing that the offensive post was attached."

Rago said all the mayor's Tweets from St. Patrick's Day weekend were handled by the city's social media manager.

Rago described the tweet in question as "offensive" but did not explain why or how the social media manager retweeted it, only saying it, "may have been included in the overall thread from the original post."

By Monday evening, a tweet sent from Purzycki's account read, "I had nothing to do with the offensive post. We unintentionally compounded the problem by RTing the original post unaware that an offensive screenshot was attached. It's disturbing how social media can be manipulated."

“I am deeply offended that someone would intentionally try to connect me to this disturbing message," Purzycki said in a news release Monday evening.

The myth of the enslaved Irish in America, which many scholars have denounced as false, is a popular one in white nationalist online circles.

While many Irish immigrants came to America as indentured servants, the meme generally espouses the idea that the Irish were enslaved in a similar way to Africans, who were forcibly brought to the country as part of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Versions of the meme claim the Irish "slaves" were treated worse.

The trope has been used in many online forums against arguments for racial equality.

Follow Jeanne Kuang on Twitter at @JeanneKuang.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Delaware mayor calls retweet of offensive post about Irish slavery an 'innocent mistake'