The important fact to know about Ethan Czahor is that he graduated from college in 2009. Czahor, a technologist who was recently hired, and then abruptly fired Tuesday as the chief technology officer of Jeb Bush's nascent presidential campaign, came of age in a time when social media and blogging software offered infinite real estate and audience reach to anybody with an opinion. Young people have opinions. Fire, meet tinder.
The new chief technology officer of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's recently formed political action committee, who made headlines this week for previously making inflammatory remarks on Twitter, once praised Martin Luther King Jr. for not speaking in "‘jibberish’ or ‘slang’" as well as for not wearing "pants sagged to his ankles."
Yes, Czahor was a young conservative. In another era he might have published college newspaper columns, vetted by an editor. Instead, he lived in the age of blogging. That's set Czahor up to be the umpteenth youngish politico to have the worst of his old thoughts blurted across the Internet, just days after Illinois Representative Aaron Schock's communications director resigned over racially insensitive Facebook posts, and not long after an aide to Tennessee Representative Stephen Fincher resigned because she'd Facebooked some critical opinions about the First Family.
What's actually on Czahor's old blog, a companion to his eponymous radio show? There's the MLK post, an example of the "MLK would have hated affirmative action" trope. To achieve racial togetherness in America, wrote Czahor, "the final step is to abolish all racial-based programs and let all individuals compete as equals. That's the way Dr. King would have wanted it."
Czahor tackled plenty of subjects, often with the goal of starting a debate for the show. All of them read like the hot takes a Fox News anchor would deliver over to a Media Matters gaffe-tracker.
From an April 27 post titled "Sharpton Plans to Disable NYC":
Can you imagine if it was a group of white cops that killed Sean Bell? Regardless of the outcome of the trial, Sharpton would be having people burn cars all over the city.
(Alternatively — imagine if it was a white guy that was gunned down by the police. Would Al be fighting for his “justice”? I think not.)
From an April 28 post, about Rev. Jeremiah Wright's speech to the National Press Club:
The man is not happy that blacks were forced to compete with whites in school: he blames black deficiencies in education on a “right-brain method of learning,” as opposed to the “left-brain” whites. OK, maybe so; but what about the Asians, the Hispanics, and the Indians who score on a relatively same level — or better — as whites? Is the entire world “left-brained” except for the Africans?
Perhaps instead of bitching about whatever side of the brain they use, other ethnicities realized that they need to buckle down and do whatever it takes to succeed in American society? Just a thought.
But instead of uniting people — as Obama claims to be able to do, as well — Wright prattles on about differences and incompatibilities with people of different skin color, and essentially suggests that we stop treating each other as equal, and go back to treating each other as “separate but equal.”
And they say Republicans want to turn back the clock — pshaw!
From an August 2008 post titled "Rednecks for Obama":
I’ve always subscribed to the theory that Obama’s skin color will bring him more votes than it will lose. And why? Because America is not a racist country — not anymore. Deal with it, victimizers.
None of this was racist; not the way that, say, the European American Rights Organization was racist. Czahor's point was the kind that "Stephen Colbert" used to make when he insisted that he was literally colorblind on race. Calling Al Sharpton a "race hustler," for example, is the sort of thing Representative Steve King says when he insists that racial tension is being stoked in a country that wants to get past it. In 2009, Czahor took the argument where a lot of conservatives had gone before. It was not greed, not racism, but well-intentioned racial set-aside policies that caused the economic crisis of 2008.
Now put yourself in the position of a banker, and you’ve got a less-than-desirable candidate for a mortgage sitting in front of you. You know his application should be denied; your bank would have gone out of business long ago if you had recklessly lent to high-risk applicants.
But the government is pushing you with the Community Reinvestment Act, so who knows? Maybe you’ll get thrown in jail if you don’t approve the mortgage. The potential borrower is black, so maybe he’ll file a discrimination lawsuit against you, claiming you to be a racist, which would damage not only your bank but your personal reputation as well.
This stuff was bound to come out. To anyone who dabbled in college conservatism (and I edited a conservative-leaning campus newspaper for two years), it's utterly harmless sounding. Reached via email, Czahor had no comment on the blog posts, but he had responded to the Twitter stage of this controversy by admitting that he no longer found some jokes "funny or appropriate."
In the end, neither did Bush, whose handlers cited Czahor's "regrettable/insensitive comments" as the reason for his dismissal.
Every story like this is a fresh chance to judge whether people should ever out-live their old quotes. The rules are random. They've brought down other young Republicans recently. Six years ago, they brought down Van Jones, after conservatives (including Glenn Beck, then at the apex of his influence) found an old profile in which he'd described himself as a "communist." (Jones endured that, but was weakened for the blow that came when his name showed up on a 9/11 truth petition.) This material tells people who politicos are, and what influenced them as they escaped their larval stage. And few people can predict what'll happen with their social media output. Take the item Czahor wrote in March 2009, about the coming death of Twitter.
My best estimation is that people use Twitter only because lots of other people are already using Twitter. How did this inertia begin? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. But because Twitter makes no money — that’s right, zero revenue — and offers scant new functionality, I’ll give it three years: that’s two years and eleven months of growth immediately followed by one month of precipitous decline and implosion. After that, it’s going to need a government bailout to stay afloat.
Who can be right all the time?