The vice president for information technology at a Chattanooga software company has been fired after a social media firestorm identified him as the person who posted a racist meme showing former president Barack Obama with a noose around his neck.
Let that soak in. The vice president for IT at a major Chattanooga software company named Transcard posted images widely shared on social media that pictured Obama, the first African American president in U.S. history, with a noose around his neck and the caption #PayPerView."
On his Facebook profile, Gary Casper also listed his previous IT roles at US Xpress, according to screen grabs before Casper's Facebook page was taken down or made unsearchable.
Threatening to harm or kill a former or current president is considered a felony with a penalty of up to five years in prison.
But aside from any real or perceived threat is the implied racism and intended intimidation to all people of color. Obama hasn't been president for nearly four years. Apparently having black skin is still reviled in some small American brains.
Because Obama was the first black president, elected not once but twice and still wildly popular, he serves as one of the most recognizable lightning rods for those with closed minds. And yes, President Donald Trump fits in the closed mind, small-brain category, launching recently with his supporters a newly made-up and baseless scandal to deflect from Trump's failures and poor 2020 poll standings against former Obama vice president Joe Biden.
To quote Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin: "On Sunday, the president who dawdled while a pandemic spread across the country, got into a no-win trade war with China, hired a slew of incompetent and ethically challenged advisers and presided over the worst economic crash in 90 years decided to call Obama "grossly incompetent. Talk about projection."
But forget Trump. He's irredeemable.
Chattanooga, hopefully, is a different story.
On Sunday afternoon, Transcard president Chris Fuller emailed the Times Free Press saying the company does not allow its employees to make political statements on social media.
"As soon as Transcard realized that an employee was utilizing social media to engage in political speech, it took immediate action to terminate its relationship with such person," Fuller wrote in the email. Earlier on Sunday, Transcard also had posted to Facebook that "views reflected in posts made by individuals do not reflect the views or values of Transcard."
That Transcard Facebook page where that announcement was posted has been largely inactive, but it is the one linked from the company's web page.
Following Casper's post going viral, it appears Casper's personal Facebook and LinkedIn pages also were removed. Transcard also appeared to delete all posts previously posted on its company Facebook page, reportedly after many angry commenters spammed the company's previously published posts, according to a story posted on freightbrokerlive.com.
Fuller, like Casper, was a former employee of US Xpress, having once been vice president and general manager for US Xpress' Northeast Region, according to Fuller's Linked-in page. On Sunday, other social media accounts, including the Twitter pages other Transcard officials, were blocked or deleted — including those of Fuller and Transcard's CEO Greg Bloh. The company's Twitter page also was blocked or deleted.
Freightbrokerlive.com's story describes Transcard as a fintech company which specializes in providing innovative, cloud-based payment solutions to the transportation, health care, insurance and financial services industries, according to its website.
We say hopefully Chattanooga is a different story, though our history would show we're clearly fighting an uphill battle.
It's not the first time something like this has happened at a major company in the 21st century Chattanooga.
Three employees of Republic Parking System filed a lawsuit in January 2012 saying their immediate supervisor used racist comments, sexually offensive language and displayed a hanging noose in the company's downtown office. The case was listed in U.S. District Court as "dismissed — settled" with no further details.
At least three nooses were found at separate times at the Cameron Hill construction site for the BlueCross BlueShield headsquarters in 2008.
That same year in November, students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga hung a Confederate flag outside the bedroom door of a black roommate. The student who later admitted hanging the flag said it was "a joke" and not meant to instill fear. The student was given community service duties on campus, said University officials.
Today it's easier than ever to express racism, to be racist. There's no need to sew sheets together for a robe and pointy hat. And you needn't buy a rope. Just make or borrow a meme and post it on your favorite social media platform.