In today’s edition of “Obnoxious Politicians and the Daft Constituents Who Love Them,” Atlantic County, New Jersey Freeholder John Carman posted the following meme on his Facebook page this past Saturday:
Don’t worry, though. According to Carman, he “fully support[s] women’s rights and issues.” When people predictably voiced their disapproval of Carman’s choice to post such a graphic, he contritely defended, “I thought it was funny. People need to lighten up.” Adding to his imagined comic genius, Carman followed up the meme with a comment, “There must be a large sandwich making class going on in Washington, D.C.today.” Hardy har-har.
Commenters on Carman’s Facebook page attempted to educate him about why the joke wasn’t so funny. One wrote: “Yes, John, it’s a joke, but it’s a joke that draws from a tradition of sexism and the mistaken belief that a woman’s purpose is, without question, domestic chores. As an elected official you should be standing up to stereotypes, not perpetuating them.”
Guess what Carman did after that? Hint, hint. He didn’t apologize. He did, however, post this little gem:
The Atlantic County Democrats wasted no time sending out a press release calling the Carman’s comments “misogynist” and “despicable.” Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman said, “On Saturday, millions of women all across the country and the world stood up to hate, intolerance, and misogyny,”she said. “That same day, Freeholder Carman embraced the very hate, intolerance and misogyny just to get a few shallow ‘likes’ on Facebook. It was classless and his actions should be condemned by Republicans and Democrats alike.”
Here’s the thing. Carman may or may not be a misogynist. He may be a great champion of women who just has a terrible sense of humor. Or he may be a sinister oppressor of all things feminine. More likely, he’s an ignoramus who thinks women are charming so long as they laugh at his jokes and quit bitching about inconvenient things like reproductive freedom and childcare. But what is truly troubling about Carman’s post has zero to do with women and everything to do with government.
Civil disobedience is an important aspect of political power and American history. It is the one tool of the oppressed that has the tendency to work. It is something elected officials should expect and respect. Civil disobedience has been the driving force behind some of the proudest moments of change in American history. And at its core, civil disobedience is simply direct participation in government.
If some of the 2.9 million march participants had called Freeholder Carman’s office to voice their political opinions, they would have been entitled to do so. And Carman would have been expected to treat those callers with respect and professionalism. The fact that people, some of them citizens of his county, took to the streets to be heard deserves no less deference. The fact that he doesn’t know or doesn’t care about his obligation as a government official is disgraceful. His Rosa Parks meme is equally appalling; while ostensibly pointing out the value of peaceful over violent resistance, it unfairly likened all 2.9 million participants in Saturday’s march to rioters. As a private citizen, Carman is free to spread “alternative facts” all he wants. As an elected official, he has a duty to serve his constituents without spreading irresponsible propaganda.
The icing on the cake of foolishness is that Carman is a freeholder in the county that is home to Atlantic City, once home to three Trump casinos. If anyone has an unwavering obligation to listen to the concerns of those affected directly by President Trump, it’s Carman and his fellow Atlantic County officials. Failure to do so is willful blindness on an epic scale.
Something tells me, though, that those close to Freeholder Carman weren’t at all surprised by his careless post on Saturday. Earlier in January, he posted the below. For such a self-proclaimed comedian, you’d think he’d have understood that Archie Bunker was a satirical character.
[image via Atlantic County Government website]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.