The tweet by TPPF's Vance Ginn seems to be inspired by Texas' newly revised data on COVID-19 fatalities, which he said demonstrate that most of the deaths are older or Hispanic. Under the revised figures, the death rate for Hispanics rose to 47.4% of the total on July 27, up from a quarter of the total on May 27.
“Why not #openschools, end universal mandates, target vulnerable & check those from #Mexico?” Ginn opined in a tweet he's since deleted but was captured and shared in screen shots by other Twitter users. The tweet included a GIF of Prince Harry of Wales pretending to drop a mic.
Texas lawmakers immediately blasted Ginn's tweet as racist and offensive.
“The recent statement by Vance Ginn, chief economist for the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) was racist, inhumane and deplorable," said State Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, who chairs the Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus. "Many Texans are children of immigrants, and as a son of immigrants, it deeply offends and angers me that Vince Ginn is portraying that lives of Hispanics are more expendable than others. This racist rhetoric and reckless language exacerbates the danger that our children and elderly face in the midst of this pandemic."
In a tweet, State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, directly called out TPPF, asking if the organization stood for the "trash" Ginn tweeted.
"Vance just said out loud what he really thinks," Anchia wrote. "He suggests Hispanics are not Americans, says it’s ok that our kids get sick bc few die & views us as expendable."
Vance just said out loud what he really thinks:— Rafael Anchía (@RafaelAnchia) July 28, 2020
He suggests Hispanics are not Americans, says it’s ok that our kids get sick bc few die & views us as expendable.
Does @TPPF stand by this trash?@MALCTx #TXLege #takeitback pic.twitter.com/3booCNkcJ2
Since the controversy erupted Tuesday, Ginn — previously a Trump White House economist — has alternated between apologies and claims that he was taken out of context.
First, Ginn tweeted an apology for sharing the GIF, saying it "may have been perceived as insensitive." However, in an interview with the Texas Tribune, he argued that his original tweet was “woefully taken out of context out of bad faith.”
However, by Tuesday evening, Ginn was back on Twitter, taking down the original tweet and apologizing for "how poorly I communicated."
"My intent was to highlight the positive development of more data available to make better policy decisions and help the vulnerable,” he wrote.
I removed the previous tweet.— Vance Ginn (@VanceGinn) July 28, 2020
I apologize for how I poorly communicated as I believe strongly based on my deep faith that every life is precious. My intent was to highlight the positive development of more data available to make better policy decisions and help the vulnerable.
That apology is unlikely to stave off a growing chorus of criticism, including from San Antonio's Menéndez, who's calling on TPPF to show Ginn the door.
"When one is in a position to assist others and uses that position instead to incite hate, we must hold them accountable," the senator said. "This statement invokes the question of whether TPPF tolerates archaic and racist attacks. We urge the removal of Vance Ginn and action by TPPF to denounce racism."
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