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This is a screen shot of Robin Smith's controversial retweet on Twitter.

Robin Smith: You're better than this

Hixson's state Rep. Robin Smith retweeted a meme on Twitter — and commented on it — comparing hand straps on a bus or subway to the Bubba Wallace "noose" controversy at NASCAR.

When it rightly raised eyebrows, she said the "systemic racism" retweet was part of a bet with a liberal.

Yeah, yeah. It's always the liberals' fault, right?

In his original tweet on Wednesday, Wojciech Pawelczyk, whose bio says he is a video editor for former Trump adviser Steve Bannon's "War Room 2020," sarcastically described the photo of the transit hand straps as "Proof of systemic racism." To that, Smith added: "How many FBI agents will be investigating ...."

It was a reference to an FBI investigation into the incident involving Wallace, the only Black driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, amid ongoing concerns over his safety as he advocated for NASCAR to ban Confederate flags. Federal agents determined a noose-like rope was hung on Wallace's assigned garage at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama months before his arrival, as a way to help close the door.

Smith's initial tweet on Wednesday and subsequent ones on Thursday blew up a Twitter storm with dozens of attacks on her. It also drew criticisms or concerns from a number of Tennessee Democratic lawmakers, including Rep. Yusuf Hakeem, D-Chattanooga, the lone Black member of the Hamilton County delegation, who called it "frankly ... hurtful."

Smith said her action arose out of a Tuesday video discussion with clients and others, including one she described as a liberal: "Someone said there's no such thing as 'cancel culture' and I begged to differ. I said absolutely, it's alive and well. You'll see that the 'Twitterverse' drives so much of the news cycle, but it only represents, maybe, 2% of the population if that. She added: "I said, 'Do you want me to prove a point? I will go to a conservative website that I know has quite a few memes and just watch the responses I get."

Can't reasonable minds make points without being racist about it? Without sinking to the level of the worst among us? "Cancel culture?" Whatever happened to plain, reasonable language?

Hakeem, like us, saw nothing amusing or redeeming about Smith's action or bet.

Rep. Harold Love, a Nashville minister, tweeted, "@robints how does this tweet help us get to any racial reconciliation in the #TNleg."

But Smith dug in, following the advice of a backer who said "Never apologize to the mob." She fired back "Marxist Left demands free speech but when confronted w hysterical hypocrisy silence is expected, especially when coming from a conservative Christian Woman. Again, proof on display."

Really? Did she really just add insult to injury and play that Christian card?

Robin Smith knows better and should be better. Her constituents absolutely deserve better.

 

Kemp signs Georgia hate crimes law

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday signed legislation allowing additional penalties to be imposed for crimes motivated by a victim's race, religion, sexual orientation or other factors.

The times they are a-changing, to quote Bob Dylan's 1964 civil rights folk song. It just happens more slowly here in the South.

Kemp's action, following the hasty action of the Georgia Legislature following the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, as well as recent nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality (including a case in Atlanta), removed Georgia from the dwindling list of U.S. states without a hate crimes law, according to The Associated Press.

Arbery was a 25-year-old Black man pursued and fatally shot while running near Brunswick, Georgia, in February. Three white men, including a father and son, are charged with murder in his death.

Kemp rightly noted Friday before signing the bill that it "does not fix every problem or right every wrong. But this bipartisan legislation is a powerful step forward. It's a sign of progress, and it's a milestone worth applauding."

The law becomes effective July 1 and will allow additional penalties to be imposed for certain crimes when motivated by a victim's race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender or disability. It also mandates the collection and reporting of data on hate crimes investigated by law enforcement.

Now only three U.S. states remain without a hate crimes law — Arkansas, South Carolina and Wyoming.

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