A Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) lawyer has resigned one day after a problematic Facebook debate with a theologian landed him under disciplinary review. In the online dialogue, the lawyer seemed to villainize the black community and called systemic racism “a leftist lie.”
Eric S. Giunta, who had been assistant general counsel at the department since December 2017, stuck to his guns while taking on Holly Taylor Coolman, who had posted a video entitled “Systemic Racism Explained” on Tuesday. The video is a primer on the circumstances that keep many African-Americans at a great disadvantage compared to white Americans, including a neighborhood zoning practice called “redlining,” which stigmatizes black neighborhoods and funnels far less tax dollars into their school systems.
Giunta, however, wasn’t buying it, commenting, “What a load of crap.”
He left a second comment that read, “If the black community wants to better itself, it can, quite easily. Black people need to stop raping, murdering, stealing and vandalizing, and quit having children out of wedlock. That’s how literally every other once-despised ethnic group broke the cycle and entered into the middle-class mainstream.”
Coolman admitted she was finding it “hard to know how even to begin to respond.” She continued, “I’ll just say briefly that I don’t think your comment reflects an understanding of the important differences between the history of the black community and of ‘every other once-despised ethnic group.'”
She then went on to quote a 2018 letter from the U.S. Catholic bishops, which explained the difference between systemic racism, a “major affliction of our society” that “still profoundly affects our culture,” and individual racism, which is “only found in the hearts of individuals who can be dismissed as ignorant or unenlightened.”
“The U.S. bishops are wrong,” Giunta declared, and went on to decry “popular leftist cliches and bromides without serious analysis or argument, under a theory that identifies Catholic social doctrine with the following equation: monotheism + the latest iteration of woke socialism – abortion.”
Coolman tried to defuse the tense debate, but Giunta was intent on pressing the issue. “‘Systemic racism’ is a leftist lie, like ‘same-sex marriage’ and ‘transgenderism,'” he declared. He then explained that “part of being rational” is holding prejudices against certain people based on their ethnicity. He called it a matter of “appreciating ethnic and cultural differences.”
After the Tallahassee Democrat reported on the debate, Giunta was placed under disciplinary review.
“This individual’s comments are absolutely unacceptable and are not in line with the values of the Florida Department of Corrections, nor are they a reflection of the thousands of dedicated professionals who serve our agency daily,” Michelle Glady, director of communications for FDC, told the publication.
Several hours later, an FDC official confirmed that Giunta had resigned. When reached by the Tallahassee Democrat, Giunta — who had written a column for a conservative website, Renew America, until 2015 — confirmed that he made the comments on Coolman’s post. He then released a statement in which he called his words “admittedly brusque” and “admittedly inartful,” but said he did not mean to imply that “all or even most black people are criminals, violent or otherwise.”
Instead, he said he meant to point out “the deficits” of Coolman’s video on systemic racism, which includes, according to him, “the failure to address the effect relatively high crime rates, and astronomically high out-of-wedlock birth rates, have on black communities and the ability of many blacks to break out of the economic-depressive cycles the video refers to.”
Giunta, who is reportedly Italian-American, added, “Suffice it to say I, a son of immigrants, do not have a racist bone in my body, and I went out of my way in my comments to make clear that I do not believe the socio-economic difficulties faced by many black communities are in any way intrinsic to being black, but that they can be overcome by adequate cultural reformation within these communities, in much the same way other once-disadvantaged ethnic groups in this country, including my own, broke these same depressive cycles by the adoption of so-called ‘bourgeois values’: getting married before having children and staying married for the children’s sake; working hard, as if no one owed you welfare; being civic-minded and charitable; going out of one’s way to obey the laws and avoid substance abuse, etc.”
He also maintained that there is no such thing as systemic racism “by white people.”
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