Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Seiwert of Kansas is facing public scrutiny after he commented on a Facebook post of a meme by suggesting that a Black Lives Matter supporter should go home, the New York Daily News reported Wednesday. The supporter who Seiwert criticized was an African American woman named Denasia Lawrence who kneeled while singing the national anthem prior to an NBA preseason game in Miami Friday.
The meme featured Lawrence wearing a “Black Lives Matter,” shirt which she wore in protest of racial injustice, she explained in a Facebook post. The words displayed in the meme slammed the Black Lives Matter movement and "anti-American blacks," the Topeka Capital-Journal reported Tuesday.
“Go back to where you claim home,” Seiwert commented under the meme, later adding, “So, if they don’t like it here, I believe that their freedom completely allows them to go wherever they believe is more fair and non-racist." Seiwert's comments were later removed from the post.
During an interview with the publication, Seiwert said that he did not believe his comments were racist, he explained that he was trying to stand up for the U.S. flag and the military. He also insisted that he did not see the words on the meme until after he posted his comments.
“I’m not a racist. I believe in freedom,” he said. “It offends me when people disrespect the flag. If unhappy, move to somewhere where you’re happy,” Seiwert added.
Democrat Clifton Beck, who is running against Seiwert, told The Associated Press that his opponent’s comments were offensive because the words “go home to Africa” were used as racial slurs during the civil rights movement. “It’s a well-known slur, and he used it,” Beck said.
This is not the first time that Seiwert has faced backlash. In 2010, he forwarded an email to about 40 people arguing that Muslims could never be good Americans because of their loyalty to Islam.
“I’m appalled at his ignorance,” Beck told the New York Daily News. “I don’t believe Joe is a racist, but making racial comments are just as bad.”