John Lewis from Virginia, a computer science teacher and father of four, was subjected to a deluge of racist abuse on Twitter Saturday when infuriated Donald Trump supporters confused him for the civil rights icon and Democratic congressman of the same name.
The congressman said that he did not believe in the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency, citing the allegations of Russian election interference. He also promised to skip Friday’s inauguration ceremony. True to fashion, the President-elect reacted with an explosive rant:
Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to……— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2017
mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2017
Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S. I can use all the help I can get!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2017
The series of posts kickstarted a fevered tweetstorm, in which dozens of accounts targeted the wrong John Lewis (the congressman is @repjohnlewis).
It wasn’t fun for the teacher.
Depressing day. 90% of misdirected tweets today were racist rants, which I did NOT redirect or reply to.— John Lewis (@johnlewis) January 16, 2017
While the intensity and nature of abuse was clearly disturbing, Lewis appears to be used to receiving misdirected communications. He has the secondary misfortune of sharing his name with a large retail chain and summarily finds himself dealing with customer service and product queries.
I can categorically confirm that I am NOT the reason for the library closing upstairs in the Podium, whatever that is. @johnlewisretail https://t.co/zLTETjdzdt— John Lewis (@johnlewis) January 12, 2017
Still, he manages to deal with the constant bombardment with grace, humor, and patience—an extraordinary character trait that has not gone unnoticed by other users.
You're a good man John Lewis. Class act.— Joanna Parham (@jlpsays) January 16, 2017
spare a thought for @johnlewis the only man on Twitter to have to field questions for both a congressman and a department store.— Ian Rennie (@theangelremiel) January 14, 2017