Conservatives have dug up old tweets Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s new CEO, made about religion and race. He argued that he was quoting a comedian on Jon Stewart’s show.
On Monday, Jack Dorsey named Agrawal, Twitter’s chief technical officer since 2017, his successor as CEO. Conservatives reacted to the news by digging up Agrawal’s old tweets.
US Republican Party Senator Marsha Blackburn shared screenshots of two messages the new Twitter boss posted in 2010. One, published in December of that year, read, “If something has worked for people in the past, it doesn’t mean it will work for you now,” with the hashtags #PyramidSchemes, #Religions, and #Traditions.
“Twitter’s new CEO called religion a pyramid scheme. This is who is going to be controlling your speech online,” Blackburn wrote.
In a tweet dated October 2010, Agrawal wrote, “If they are not gonna make a distinction between muslims and extremists, then why should I distinguish between white people and racists.”
The tweet was criticized by Republican Congressman Ken Buck, and shared by a number of conservative figures, including Michael Knowles and Clay Travis.
“If they are not gonna make a distinction between muslims and extremists, then why should I distinguish between white people and racists.”
— Parag Agrawal (@paraga) October 26, 2010
The account of Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee tweeted: “Didn’t think it could get much worse than Jack Dorsey. But yikes.”
The phrase about white people and racists from Agrawal’s tweet seems to be a quote by comedian Aasif Mandvi, who, as a guest on Jon Stewart’s show on NPR, was reacting to remarks by journalist Juan Williams. Williams said on Fox News that he would get “nervous” on a plane around someone “identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslim.” Agrawal himself argued in 2010 that he was quoting Mandvi.
Republicans also criticized Agrawal for a 2020 interview in which he argued that Twitter should “not be bound” by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech. Conservatives have long accused Twitter of censoring them.
Dorsey, who led Twitter since co-founding it in 2006, said in his farewell letter that Agrawal was “behind every critical decision that helped turn this company around.”
In his first statement as new CEO, Agrawal vowed to make Twitter “the best it can be for our customers, shareholders, and for each of you.”
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