Around this time in 2019, Minnesota GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan went public with an unpleasant experience at an airport.
“I don’t appreciate being racially selected by @TSA for an additional screening as I boarded my plane just now from LGA-MSP,” she wrote. “When I called the agent out for racially profiling me, she acknowledged I was pulled aside because I’m Asian. I am beyond livid.”
The tweet no longer appears on Carnahan's feed, but it has in many screenshots since then.
I’ll just leave this here. *sips tea* pic.twitter.com/qLnYyffKdV— Donald Hasenbank (@DonaldHasenbank) January 7, 2020
A year passed. On Sunday, Carnahan tweeted about another pre-flight experience. Again, the topic was racial profiling, though this time Carnahan was in no mood to confront it.
“The traveler before me at FLL said to TSA ‘thank you for what you do and keep the Iranians out. Isn’t our President @realDonaldTrump the man?” it began. The story continued with Carnahan asking her fellow passenger if he was voting for Trump in 2020, followed by an enthusiastic “YES” and a #KAG2020 hashtag.
The traveler before me at FLL said to TSA “thank you for what you do and keep the Iranians out. Isn’t our President @realDonaldTrump the man?” TSA agent’s response: “we keep everyone safe.” I asked the man ‘are you voting for Trump in 2020?’ Reply: HELL YES. #KAG2020— Jennifer Carnahan (@jkcarnah) January 5, 2020
Twitter users were quick to point out the difference in Carnahan’s tone about similar situations over the course of the year. Some called it “cognitive dissonance.” Others opted for “racism.”
“How does the friction between these two ‘ideas’ not cause people like this to just burst into flames?” one Twitter user asked.
Carnahan also posted a more detailed version of the story about keeping "America safe" and "the Iranians out" on her Facebook page, but contained an addendum of sorts.
“Disclaimer for liberals that will attack this post or me,” Carnahan wrote. “I’m not against Iranians or lumping the whole country of citizens based on a small select group of terrorists. I am posting this because this man was SO energized behind President Trump.”
The post concluded: “The movement and number of us behind our president is growing by the day, and MARK MY WORDS – he will win re-election – and it’s going to be a GREAT THING for America when he does.” (Screenshots below taken by City Pages on Tuesday.)
Carnahan didn’t respond to interview requests, so it’s hard to unpack all this. It’s difficult to say why exactly she chose to highlight this Trump supporter’s ardor for keeping a certain group of people out of the country without comment, given her own experience with being profiled. A lot of commenters seem to be having a hard time squaring the two.
“Which one is the real you?” one Twitter user asked in her replies.
Previously, Carnahan, who is Korean-American, hasn’t shied away from calling racism where she sees it. In 2017, shortly after being elected, she called out a Facebook post by the 7th Congressional District Republicans for its flagrantly offensive characterization of then-Congressman Keith Ellison as a “Muslim goat humper.” Carnahan's reward was several angry Facebook messages and phone calls, some peppered with racial slurs and one calling her a “fucking bitch.”
“There’s just no room to talk to someone like that, even if you’re upset and angry,” she told City Pages at the time.
In 2018, she alleged that other party executive committee members had called her a “dragon lady” and a far more crass slur for Asian people. She also described being called “disgusting” by a fellow Trump rally attendee.
She has not, however, attributed that ugly sentiment to Trump himself.
“If I thought he was a racist or that anything he did was stoking racial divisions, I wouldn’t want to work on his behalf because I’ve had to deal with racism my entire life,” she told the Star Tribune in 2018. “I told [Trump] I want to run again to be chair because I want to deliver the state to you in 2020.”