Bill Montgomery Debates Civil Rights History on Twitter With @Flabzboobz

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. Gage Skidmore/flickr
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery called Democratic senators “hyenas” on Friday and expressed support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Montgomery’s employee, Rachel Mitchell, played a central role on Thursday questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the California psychology professor who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when the two were in high school.

"Do you know the difference between a pack of hyenas and the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee?... Neither do I.#ConfirmKavanaugh," Montgomery wrote in a tweet.

Montgomery's message earned him the distinction of getting ratioed, internet slang for when a tweet garners far more "replies" than "likes" or "retweets." A ratioed tweet typically means it is low-quality in the eyes of most Twitter users. Criticism at Montgomery poured in when Jose Duffy Rice, a writer for the criminal justice website The Appeal, retweeted him.

Montgomery, who writes under the handle @Veritas_ad_res, engaged in conversation with some of his critics, defending Mitchell and his office's political independence. The most surreal exchange, though, was with an activist named Marisa Kabas, who responded to Montgomery with a play on his joke: "Do you know the difference between Republicans and white supremacists? Neither do I."

Montgomery responded to Kabas with the oft-trotted defense against claims that the Republican party plays to racial resentment. He noted that the party opposed slavery in the late 1800s. He also wrote that white supremacists in the Ku Klux Klan supported Democrats, leaving out that KKK members during the height of the Klan also supported Republicans

"Let me help. White supremacists opposed Republicans during Reconstruction to serve rights for former slaves. They served in KKK to support Democrats. White supremacists opposed Civil/Voting Rights Acts of 1964 & still opposed to Republican principles," Montgomery wrote in another tweet that got ratioed.

Montgomery continued his debate about racial politics and the two-party system with another critic. This one writes under the handle @flabzboobz.

"Dude read a history book. Republicans and Democrats switched parties when a Democrat initiated the civil Rights act and racists FLED from the Dems to the Republicans because they hated black people that much. Therefore modern Republican party is literally founded in racism," @flabzboobz wrote.

"That's the false narrative," responded the top prosecutor overseeing most felony criminal cases in a jurisdiction with more than than four million people. "Republican votes secured passage of Civil/Voting Rights Acts. Today, Republicans seek opportunity for all, regardless of race."

As to be expected in a medium that limits messages to 280 characters, both @flabzboobz and Montgomery offered simplistic versions of history. While Republicans voted in favor of the Civil Rights Act, their presidential candidate — Arizona's own Barry Goldwater — voted against the legislation. Geography, rather than party, was the best indicator for how representatives voted, with Southern representatives generally opposing the bill. After the Civil Rights Act, Republicans started to secure support in Southern states, with Goldwater winning most of the them. Many historians believe that race was a major, if not the primary, issue in the south's party shift, but other factors such as evangelical conservatism and mistrust in big government also played a role.

The discourse continued.

Not longer after his "hyenas" tweet, Montgomery wrote a "friendly media reminder" that @Veritas_ad_res is his personal Twitter account, distinct from his professional account.

Montgomery has a blanket policy of not commenting to New Times.
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Steven Hsieh was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from August 2018 to April 2020.
Contact: Steven Hsieh