Just weeks after Greg Jones resigned from the Kokomo Common Council after bigoted social media posts were unearthed, similar content was found on his replacement’s Facebook page.
Last Wednesday the Howard County Republican Party convened a caucus to replace Jones as the council representative of District 4. Jones resigned amid controversy in mid-February after the discovery of Facebook posts that called Islam a “theocratic moon cult” and its practitioners “goat humpers.” That caucus resulted in the selection of Roger Stewart to replace Jones in District 4, which encompasses the Kokomo Islamic Association of Kokomo. However, on Friday social media posts were discovered on Stewart’s Facebook account, and those posts also directed negative ire toward members of the Islamic community.
The posts largely were grouped together in early 2019.
One, a meme shared by Stewart on Feb. 5, 2019, read, “I refuse to bend, twist or change to make Muslims feel comfortable in MY COUNTRY. They either adhere to our laws or leave! THIS IS MY COUNTRY! Understood???”
Another post, not authored by Stewart but shared on his page on Jan. 14, 2019, took aim at the idea of elected officials taking their oaths of office with a Quran. It read, “Let me say about the QURAN, if you take the Oath of Office on a book recognizing Sharia Law swearing to defend honor and uphold the United States Constitution, then you have committed treason, for Sharia Law is a direct violation and conflict of United States Constitutional Law.”
Stewart shared another user’s post to his page on Feb. 7, 2019, which was titled “What is an infidel?” The lengthy post focused on an anecdote concerning prison ministry wherein the author listened to three speakers. One was Roman Catholic, another Protestant, and another was of the Muslim faith.
Through that anecdote, the author claimed to have confronted the Muslim about their faith and Sharia Law and through that had exposed “the truth about the Muslims’ beliefs.” That belief in the anecdote focused on the radical belief of killing those who do not follow the Islamic faith, and the anecdote intimated that “all followers of Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not of [their] faith.”
These posts are much newer than the ones Jones resigned for. The posts that resulted in his departure from the council were made in 2015.
After Stewart’s caucus victory last week, he gave an interview Thursday. When asked if he felt the need to reach out to those who were targeted by Jones’ posts, he said, “The way I look at it is, the people that may have been affected by that, they need to understand that this is a new situation, not the same thoughts in mind as prior people that was in the position. And, I think, everybody needs to be treated fairly, and they need to be taken care of no matter what.”
Similarly, in an interview with the Kokomo Tribune, Stewart said that Jones’ behavior on social media showed that people needed to be mindful of what they post.
“It reminds me we need to be aware of what we say and do and be careful how we express ourselves,” he said.
Stewart’s 2019 social media postings were discovered Friday, and a follow-up interview was conducted with him concerning the posts.
When asked about the conflicting ideas presented in his previous interviews and the “MY COUNTRY” post, he said, “I don’t feel that way as far as, I feel like everybody has the same rights as anybody else. Why I would have done that, I have no idea.”
Similarly, he said he didn’t “even recall” making the posts.
“Like I said, that’s been a while back. I don’t even recall doing that,” said Stewart.
When asked how Stewart could reassure members of the Islamic faith after the discovery of the content of his Facebook page and its similarities to Jones’, Stewart said, “My beliefs are that everybody deserves the opportunities and chances that everybody else deserves. Everybody should be treated equal because we’re all created equal. I’m a Christian man, and I don’t believe anybody should be mistreated, period. That’s not the way I feel. That’s not me.”
He later went on to say, “The only thing I can do would be, if anybody is offended by it, is apologize for it. That’s all I can do. They’ll have to take me at my word. I’m a Christian man, and I believe everybody should be treated equal and treated the way they want to be treated … If I’ve offended anyone that wasn’t intentional. I’ve never tried to offend anyone, period.”
About half an hour after the Kokomo Perspective interviewed Stewart about his posts, his Facebook page was deleted.
Howard County Republican Party Chair Jamie Bolser denounced Stewart’s postings.
“I’m surprised to see Mr. Stewart shared these posts from over a year ago,” she said. “I condemn these types of posts today as I would have back then and as I have done before. There is no place for them in our society. I would encourage him to meet with representatives of the Muslim community. I believe Kokomo to be an inclusive community with opportunities for all regardless of race or religious preferences. We are all stronger when we work together, and we as a community need to continue working to be better.”
Howard County Democratic Party Vice Chair Steve Daily expressed frustration with the posts.
“How many more times are we going to have to do this?” he said. “I guess as many as it takes for them to find someone who actually believes in the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment. As a Vietnam veteran, I can tell you, we will fight for this country and the values it stands for until the day we die.”