Retweets by School Board Chairwoman Janet McDonald, including one that says public schools are “brainwashing” children, have prompted criticism on social media; a parent also wrote a letter on June 5 to make the School Board aware of the retweets.
In an interview with the Palm Coast Observer, McDonald said the “brainwashing” retweet was unintentional and the result of her unfamiliarity with Twitter. She said people also have misinterpreted some of her retweets, and her only goal is to promote critical thinking.
The words “They're brainwashing your children in public schools” were posted by Texas Todd as a reply to a tweet by Jack Posobiec, and McDonald had been trying to retweet Posobiec, not the reply.
“I did not have the Twitter class,” she said, adding that she feels she is being bullied for the retweet. “I didn’t realize it was a platform where people attack others.”
The original tweet by Posobiec, who has more than 800,000 Twitter followers and is labeled an alt-right conspiracy theorist on his Wikipedia page, said this: “The Antifa logo is the black flag of anarchism paired with the red flag of communism.”
McDonald said her retweets don't amount to an endorsement of their ideas and that she doesn't research Twitter accounts, but she hopes the retweets will be thought provoking. She also inadvertently retweeted World Goyim Unite, an anti-Semitic account.
After the backlash on Facebook in the past couple of days, she said, friends have contacted her. “My phone was blowing up,” she said, “Someone thought I must have been hijacked. People who know me know I don’t do this.”
Activism vs. advocacy
One retweet that was intentional was a quote from Thomas Sowell, a black libertarian columnist, whom McDonald respects. The quote, which could not be independently verified as having come from Sowell, said: "Activism is a way for useless people to feel important."
McDonald retweeted the quote along with several that were critical of nationwide protests and looting after the killing of George Floyd.
Another intentional retweet, originally by Juanita Broaddrick, said this: “Ever wonder why these cowardly Antifa Thugs never come into NRA supported communities? Exactly!”
McDonald said she didn’t interpret the tweet as a threat or justification to shoot protesters; instead, she felt it was a commentary on outside influences that have stirred up protesters.
“It wasn’t anything more than an observation,” she said. “It’s about getting people to stop and say, ‘Where is this happening?’”
McDonald said she believes that marches and protests do not effect change; on the contrary, they’re “divisive.” She draws a distinction between activism and well-thought-out advocacy.
“If you’re putting out energy, make sure it’s going to a solution,” she said.
She added that she sees all races as one: the human race. She said, “I have never had an instance where I wanted to disparage someone else because of what they did."