A North Carolina lawmaker is apologizing for what he called a “clumsy” comment about “communist Democrats.”
Republican state Rep. Larry Pittman of Cabarrus County near Charlotte sent an emailed apology to his fellow legislators on Saturday for a public comment he made on Facebook.
In the Facebook comment on another user’s post, Pittman speculated about the school shooting in Florida on Wednesday. A 19-year-old is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder following a shooting rampage with an AR-15 rifle that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Pittman speculated that Florida shooter was part of a conspiracy to “push for gun control so they can more easily take over the country.”
That user’s post later was deleted. Some people online had circulated this photo of a man who is not the suspected shooter, according to Snopes.
Pittman’s full comment: “Not surprising to see the people depicted on his T-shirt. So many of these shooters turn out to be communist democrats, that I suspect they are doing these things to push for gun control so they can more easily take over the country.”
It was the “communist Democrats” piece of his comment that Pittman apologized for in his email to his General Assembly colleagues.
“This message is primarily for Democrat members of both chambers, although it is owed to a lesser degree to Republicans, as well,” Pittman wrote. “During much prayerful consideration of the recent consternation caused by my poor choice of words, the thought came to me that if a great man like Gen. George S. Patton could render an apology when needed, how could a lesser man such as myself do less? He apologized for slapping a soldier, and it occurs to me that you may feel as if I have figuratively and collectively slapped you in the face. For this I am truly sorry. Perhaps no explanation will be satisfactory; but I feel the need to try.”
Pittman said when he used the phrase “communist Democrats,” he wasn’t thinking of his fellow lawmakers, or “Democrats generally.”
“I still remember as a child hearing that Nikita Cruchev (stet) had stated that Communists would conquer America without firing a shot,” Pittman wrote. “I have heard or read from various sources that this would be done by efforts to diminish our societal morality, destroy the traditional family and the Church, undermine our free market economy, promote violent unrest, and disarm our people. It appears very clear to me that many of these things have been occurring all around us, and I cannot believe that it is not by design.”
Pittman doesn’t cite the sources where he heard such information.
When he saw the photo of the man who was not the Florida shooter wearing a T-shirt with a hammer and sickle, with illustrations of famous communist leaders, “it seemed to me that the pieces fit.”
The photo Pittman assumed was of the shooter had no resemblance to the suspected Florida school shooter, according to Snopes.
“I do not think that all of these shootings are being carried out as part of a scheme,” Pittman said. “However, I do fear that there may be some truth to the theory that enemies of our society use events such as this to cause further unrest and to promote opposition to our rights as recognized by the Second Amendment, and that they may even be causing some of these events to occur for that purpose.
“I have also heard that some of these shooters have been affiliated with the Democrat Party. I do not feel that such people are fit to be identified as Democrats,” Pittman wrote. “The Democrats I know are honorable people. I don’t know all of you in the Legislature; but the ones I do know, I have come to think of as friends. We have rational and sometimes even friendly disagreements; but I still consider you to be honorable people and patriots.”
Pittman said he doesn’t want to honor “these enemies of our society” by calling them Democrats.
“Since I think they are more likely communists, I have referred to them as communist democrats in order to differentiate them from honorable democrats. Unfortunately, that phrasing was not perceived as I intended it,” he wrote. “So I guess I should have simply referred to them as anarchists or trouble makers or enemies of our society. I intended to repudiate them, not you.
“I’m sorry if expressing that in a clumsy manner offended or hurt any of you. If you can’t accept my explanation, I hope you will at least accept my sincere apology.”
Pittman has made controversial comments in the past. In response to the Florida school shooting, he suggested arming teachers. Last year, he compared President Abraham Lincoln to Adolf Hitler.