MSNBC host Joy Reid suggested Saturday that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is promoting racist tropes by warning looters looking to rob businesses after Hurricane Ian ravaged the Sunshine State.
But the accusation completely backfired when people noticed the implicit claim in Reid's criticism itself had racist undertones.
What did Reid say?
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, DeSantis recounted a message he saw plastered on boarded buildings in a community destroyed by the storm.
"They boarded up all the businesses, and there are people that wrote on their plywood, 'you loot, we shoot,'" DeSantis said. "At the end of the day, we are not going to allow lawlessness to take advantage of this situation. We are a law-and-order state, and this is a law-and-order community, so do not think that you’re going to go take advantage of people who’ve suffered misfortune."
Later in the day, he invoked the Second Amendment when warning against looting.
"I can tell you, in the state of Florida, you never know what may be lurking behind somebody’s home," DeSantis said. "I would not want to chance that if I were you, given that we're a Second Amendment state."
On Saturday, Reid compared DeSantis' remarks to those once made by pro-segregationists, claiming DeSantis has returned to his true "form."
"'When the looting starts, the shooting starts.'—segregationist Miami sheriff Walter E. Headley, 1967," Reid said. "Didn’t take DeSantis long to return to form."
What was the response?
By directly connecting DeSantis' warnings against looting to racism, the suggestion implicit in Reid's comments was quickly exposed: that she drew a connection between looters and black people.
- "D*mn… you automatically assumed black people would be looting? Sad of you to think so lowly of blacks," black commentator Barrington Martin II said.
- "DeSantis didn’t suggest black people are looters, you did. DeSantis isn’t a racist, you are," black writer Samuel Sey said.
- "So you're saying only black people loot? Sounds pretty racist to me," another person pointed out.
- "How is it racist? Youre the one assuming looters will be black," another person said.
- "Interesting Under FDR when the 1938 hurricane hit, the orders to the national guard in Providence was shoot to kill when it came to looters with boats breaking into all the stores in Downtown providence. FDR was a democrat if I remember correctly," meteorologist Joe Bastardi pointed out.
- "Is Joy saying only Blacks loot? Seems a bit racist," another person said.
- "This may come as a shock to you, but black homeowners in Florida have guns too," another person said.
- "So you automatically came to the assumption that only black people loot... How racist of you," another person said.
Reid has been outspokenly critical of DeSantis in the wake of Hurricane Ian and even appeared to enjoy the prospect of DeSantis requesting federal assistance from President Joe Biden.