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RNC Tweet Reinforces Hard-To-Shake GOP Stereotype

School children tour the bus that civil rights icon Rosa Parks made famous when she refused to give up her seat.

Schoolchildren tour the bus that civil rights icon Rosa Parks made famous when she refused to give up her seat.

If nothing else, the Republican National Committee has gotten people thinking about Rosa Parks.

Of course, the RNC also gave its political opponents a chance to mock the GOP with its poorly worded tweet Saturday marking the 58th anniversary of the African-American civil rights activist's refusal to give up her bus seat to a white person, an event that sparked the Montgomery bus boycott.

"Today we remember Rosa Parks' bold stand and her role in ending racism," read the tweet that caused Twitter rage, triggering a snark avalanche on the RNC's alleged cluelessness about racism's continued existence.

The RNC acknowledged the problem the next day: "Previous tweet should have read 'Today we remember Rosa Parks' bold stand and her role in fighting to end racism.' "

In other words, we get it, was the RNC's message.

While the gaffe was relatively minor, it plays into the damaging narrative about the Republican Party -- that it only pays lip service to the notion of increasing its appeal to minority voters. Indeed, from voter ID to immigration, the party is widely viewed as hostile to minority voters. So the tweet fit a stereotype about the party.

It's the same weakness the GOP's "Growth and Opportunity Project" -- also known as its post-2012 general election "autopsy" -- spoke to. Even some high-profile African-Americans like J.C. Watts, the former congressman from Oklahoma, have conceded that the party's efforts, including the GOP project on the minority outreach front, have so far been more rhetoric than reality.

It may be a long time, if ever, before the GOP reaches the point where a misstep like the Rosa Parks tweet isn't read by the left like a Freudian slip. But it's probably more doable than, say, ending racism.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

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