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Ted Cruz handles NYT writer who said he has 'no business' using Frederick Douglass' name
Adria Malcolm/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ted Cruz handles NYT writer who said he has 'no business' using Frederick Douglass' name

'You represent your employer well'

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) caused some offense on Twitter on Friday by simply quoting a Frederick Douglass speech in context after Colin Kaepernick cherry-picked an anti-Independence Day excerpt — but the senator easily dispatched his detractors.

The backstory

Kaepernick quoted the following part of a Douglass speech:

"What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? This Fourth of July is yours, not mine…There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour."

Cruz replied to the tweet, pointing out that such an isolated quote could be misleading about Douglass' views on America, and went on to quote more of the speech.

The conflict

Cruz quoting Douglass more fully, and directing readers to read the entire speech, was unacceptable to New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay.

"Frederick Douglass is an American hero, and his name has no business in your mouth," Gay wrote to Cruz.

Cruz responded by pointing out that Gay's attack lacked any facts or substance.

"Let's see. You're on the editorial board of the NYT," Cruz wrote. "You respond to any view you don't like, not with facts or reason, but w/ ad hominem attack. And you seem dismayed that I linked to Douglass's entire speech, so readers can judge for themselves. You represent your employer well."

The resolution

Gay seemed to walk back her tweet, acknowledging that Cruz was right to point readers to the full speech and not just Kaepernick's excerpt.

"You're right. Everyone should read these remarks in their entirety," Gay replied. "I was offended because I felt Douglass' powerful words were being used to diminish an American who has tried to make the country fairer for all. In that spirit, peace and Happy Independence Day weekend to you."

Not the only one

Gay wasn't the only New Yorker to bristle at Cruz quoting Douglass. New York City councilman John Brannan wrote that "Ted Cruz should not be 'clarifying' Frederick Douglass."

Cruz easily dismissed the remark.

"I know for NYC elected Dems words can lack 'meaning,' but directly quoting at length is not 'clarifying' (nor is linking to the entire brilliant speech)." Cruz replied. "But selectively quoting Douglass to make him seem like a modern America-hating Leftist is, well, the opposite of 'clarifying.'"

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