When you’re running for a school board position in suburban St. Louis and tweet out memes about banning Islam in America, what could possibly go wrong?
Well, you could be invited to speak at a candidates’ forum at the local mosque. And that’s how it came to be that the first words Parkway School Board candidate Jeanie Ames spoke to the assembled crowd at the mosque were, “I am not a xenophobic, homophobic, anti-Islam, anti-Semitic racist.”
In fact, Ames spent the better part of her two-minute opening statement trying to defend herself against charges of bigotry and racism that had arisen, in part, from her retweet of a graphic calling for the banning of Islam in America.
She has since claimed that the offending tweet — and others — were misconstrued or taken out of context. Unfortunately for Ames, her personal Twitter feed makes the context of her remarks crystal clear: Her motto, MAKE PARKWAY GREAT AGAIN, may offer a clue as to who has influenced her thinking.
In her Twitter profile, she describes herself as a “Proud wife mommy – Free market Capitalist – Constitutionalist – Catholic – Confederate – Lily-wearing – Metal lovin – Grass Roots – American Badass.”
Yeah, she called herself a “confederate.”
On January 24, the St. Louis Post Dispatch ran this article with the headline, A self-described ‘Confederate’ is running for Parkway School Board. Residents are alarmed. The article called her out not only for wanting to ban Islam, but also for referring to Michelle Obama as a “giant rat.”
Ames’ attitudes had begun to alarm a lot of people. Some who spoke to the newspaper noted:
“Jeanie Ames’ record of racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and other bigotry prove beyond any doubt that she has no place on the Parkway School District’s Board of Education … All people of conscience who believe in the value and place of all children at Parkway schools should oppose Ames’ candidacy in the strongest terms.”
— Anna Baltzer of Jewish Voice for Peace
“It is quite disturbing to say the least that a person with views such as ‘banning Islam from America’ is running for the Parkway School Board.”
— Mufti Asif Umar, imam of Daar-Al-Islam Masjid a mosque situated in the school district.
What else motivates Ms. Ames? Have a look at the banner on her Twitter page.
What does Jeanie Ames really want to do for the Parkway School Board? Is she misunderstood? Have her many offensive tweets somehow been taken out of context? The people in the photo below protested outside the March 25 candidate forum because they don’t believe she’s been misunderstood. They think Jeanie Ames has made herself perfectly clear.
This is an important moment in the community. Will Ames win or lose? And what will that tell us about ourselves?
Many of Ames’ neighbors have yard signs for the more progressive candidates in the race. None have Ames signs. Some are coming more to the point by posting yard signs stating “Hate has no home here.”
In the end, Ames lost, getting just 12.2% of the vote.