Sen. Jason Rapert posted a video to Facebook last night stating that he had been temporarily barred from using one of his Twitter accounts due to comments he posted regarding Muslims. He also promised to hold legislative hearings in Little Rock on Twitter’s bias against Christian conservatives.
“Twitter, I hope your government affairs people are watching this,” Rapert says in the video. “We are going to hold hearings on your activities.”
I had been wondering about Rapert’s unusual Twitter silence recently in the wake of the brouhaha over his recent comments regarding political participation by Muslim Americans. According to Rapert, Twitter temporarily locked him out of his account, due to its hateful conduct policy. In his video posted to Facebook last night, Rapert held up a printout of an apparent message from Twitter, which stated that for a 12-hour period, he would not be allowed to send tweets or retweets, follow other users, or like other tweets, though he would still be allowed to browse the site and send direct messages to his followers.
Twitter also apparently removed a tweet that Rapert sent that included his take on what Muslims believe and the question, “Who would want to elect someone who believes this?” His account otherwise remains up; the last tweet was on Sunday.
The kerfuffle began last week when Rapert shared an ugly article from the conspiracy site DC Clothesline, which argued that the “high percentage of Muslims voting” is “concerning.” Running down the list of Muslim candidates who won office in November, and data on Muslim participation in the political process, the article concludes, “If you don’t think they have an agenda to conform America to Islam, you really do need to pull your head out of the sand.”
In a post on Facebook, Rapert shared the article, which included a picture of three Muslim women who won office in November. Rapert quoted figures showing high voter turnout numbers among Muslim Americans and asked, “Do you want them ruling everything in America?”
In numerous posts on Twitter and Facebook, Rapert responded to an outpouring of public criticism. He says he was just sharing an article and asking a question. He also listed examples of violence committed by extremists who were Muslim. Sample: “it was not a group of Baptists, Jews or Mormons who hijacked planes and killed thousands of innocent people on 9/11/2001 – they were all radical Muslims. #Facts #History.” He asked about purported Muslim beliefs and asked, “How could you believe that as an American citizen?” He argued, “If you read this article and don’t see real political concerns then you have a problem perceiving news.” And so on.
As I noted yesterday, you might try a thought experiment. Imagine that Rapert had shared an article expressing concerns about high voter turnout among African-Americans, with the comment, “Do you want blacks ruling everything in America?” Or an article about high voter turnout among Jews, with the comment, “Do you want Jews ruling everything in America?” Rapert doesn’t it see that way. As far as he’s concerned, it’s not bigotry if the targets of his “concerns” are Muslims.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a D.C.-based Muslim advocacy group, called for the Arkansas Legislature to censure Rapert. Don’t hold your breath. A few Democratic lawmakers and politicians have spoken out, but the Republican leadership in the General Assembly has been silent.
Rapert, denied the outlet for his itchy Twitter fingers, posted a Facebook Live video to give his side of things and call for state legislative hearings into Twitter’s actions.
Wearing a Columbia jacket and facing the camera in sparse room adorned only with American flag art, Rapert bellows, “The extreme left is in overdrive.”
Rapert says that he got the DC Clothesline article from a former U.S. Attorney (hmm…any guesses on who?). He says he simply read it, and then shared the numbers he read about high Muslim voter turnout. “I re-stated it, I just shared that,” he says.
From his new video, here’s Rapert’s take on what happened next:
I tweeted out the article, I put a quote from the article, and all of a sudden extreme liberals just absolutely swarmed my Twitter feed and begin to holler and carry on at me.
Why? All because I shared an article with a sentence in that.
After receiving an expletive-enhanced response on Twitter from former Democratic Congressional candidate Chintan Desai, Rapert responded to Desai more than a half dozen times, including offering his own summary of Muslim beliefs and asking, “Who would want to elect someone who believes this?”
Twitter got involved after it received a complaint about that tweet, according to Rapert. “Someone reported that and says my response was hateful conduct,” he says. The tweet has now apparently been removed from the site.
Rapert argues that his comments are not hateful because unlike Desai, he didn’t use a curse word. “Who was hateful?” Rapert asks, before breaking into the third-person honorific. “It wasn’t Jason Rapert. It wasn’t state Sen. Rapert.”
Rapert continues: “Twitter decides to send me a message and say, we want you to take down that tweet and admit that this is a violation of Twitter rules as hateful conduct.” Rapert says he “absolutely will appeal that decision.” He says that he won’t give in to the massive left-wing conspiracy to “squelch and silence the voices of the Christians in this nation.”
“That is exactly what they have tried to do with me,” he says. “Twitter joined with extremist activists and actually shut down access to one of my Twitter accounts.”
Rapert then issues a warning to Twitter, promising to hold legislative hearings on their activities. Presumably the subpoenas to Silicon Valley are in the mail.
Twitter is not alone, Rapert says — he fears that Google and Facebook are also trying to silence Christian conservatives: “Friends, I’m not certain for how long we are going to be able to communicate across these mediums.”
Rapert believes that he was targeted for a reason: “I think this is partly a result of my announcement on the National Association of Christian Lawmakers. Think about it.”
Rapert also lodges attacks against CAIR, the advocacy group that called for his censure. And lots of other stuff, the video is like 45 minutes long. Jason Rapert will not be silenced.