State Sen. Doug Ericksen faced a barrage of criticism for a Facebook post about an editorial cartoon that compared new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who was blocked from entering a school, to Ruby Bridges, who was the first black child to desegregate an all-white school in Louisiana in 1960.
On his Facebook page, the Ferndale Republican had linked to a story on The Bellingham Herald’s website about widespread condemnation on social media to the cartoon by Glenn McCoy. Critics included Chelsea Clinton.
“In 1960 some people were outraged that a black girl entered a white school. in (sic) 2017 some people are outraged that a conservative woman would enter a public school. Some people are just full of rage,” read the post on Ericksen’s Facebook page.
The post also stated: “My original post said Democrats and I have changed that to some people. Using the word Democrats was too much of a generalization. However, the people who are outraged in these two situations do tend to identify as Democrats.”
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Responses on his Facebook page were withering. The entire post – along with people’s comments, including from those who identified themselves as his constituents – was deleted sometime Wednesday afternoon.
Ericksen, who is part of President Donald Trump’s transition team, declined to discuss the situation.
“When you’re writing a hit piece, I’m not going to respond to your questions,” Ericksen told The Bellingham Herald. “If you’re going to write a story about people upset about this post being deleted, I have no comment.”
“If you want to write a story about the issue,” he said, “I’m happy to talk about it.”
When asked what issue he was referring to, Ericksen said the issue he posted about on his Facebook page.
Based on screen shots of the Facebook post, it appeared that people commented more than once after their posts were deleted.
“Keep deleting and re-posting. This post is garbage and offensive,” Brittany Tri wrote.
“People hated that innocent little girl because of the color of her skin. We are unhappy with DeVos because she is 100% unqualified for the position she is in,” Andrea Harron wrote.
“... Way to discredit the civil rights movement while you’re at it,” Mary Park commented.
McCoy’s editorial cartoon was based on the iconic Norman Rockwell painting “The Problem We All Live With.”
The Rockwell painting showed Bridges, then 6 years old, walking into William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans while being escorted by four federal marshals. A racial slur is scrawled on a wall above her head.
McCoy’s cartoon showed DeVos, who is white, against the same backdrop, with the word “conservative” scrawled on a wall.
Protesters temporarily blocked DeVos on Feb. 10 when she tried to enter a public middle school in Washington, D.C.
Last week, a group of Whatcom County residents started a recall effort against Ericksen because, they said, he can’t do his job as a state senator while serving in Washington.
Since January, Ericksen has been the communications director for the Environmental Protection Agency during the presidential transition.
Ericksen said the recall was a “frivolous PR stunt,” and stressed that his senate work was getting done.