ST. PAUL — The deputy communications director for the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party came under fire this week after he called the newly christened USS Minneapolis-St. Paul a “murder boat” on Twitter.
William Davis deleted the tweet after coming under criticism from a number of quarters, including elected officials, one of whom has a son in the Navy, and at least one veteran, to whom he apologized.
“I have nothing but respect for all the soldiers of our country, including the Navy which my Grandpa and 5 uncles served,” Davis tweeted Sunday morning, June 16. “It should go without saying that I was talking about a weapon of war that we continue pumping billions of dollars and manpower into.” He deleted the tweet at 4 a.m. Monday. He declined to comment beyond his tweets.
The tweet that set off the storm was Sunday in response to a tweet by a TV reporter showing a video of the warship’s dramatic Saturday launch in Marinette, Wis.
In a reply, Davis tweeted: “But actually, I think it’s gross they’re using the name of our fine cities for a murder boat.”
State Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia, who was at the launch and has a son in the Navy, took issue with those words.
“I was really offended and so was my son after he saw it on Twitter,” Nash said in an interview Monday. “We can disagree on a lot of things, but the very fact that we’re able to disagree in a free country is because of the men and women in our armed forces. The fact that he called this new ship a ‘murder boat’ says to any active duty members and veterans that they are murderers.”
Davis’ tweet also caught the eye of Dave Thul, a retired Army National Guard member from Owatonna who served in the combat theaters of Kosovo and Iraq. Thul said he reached out to Davis, and after messaging and speaking privately, he realized that Davis didn’t mean to impugn any members of the military.
“I think he was trying to get a point across about perpetual wars and the machinery of war, rather than what he said,” said Thul, who once held internal Republican Party positions but left the party after President Donald Trump was elected. In an interview Monday, Thul said Davis apologized to him for the tweet. “He genuinely came across to me that he didn’t mean it. … Twitter’s just not a good medium for expressing complex views.”
After speaking with Davis, Thul tweeted that he was satisfied with the apology and concluded, “We all make mistakes — especially on Twitter. Lesson learned, let’s move on.”
This is the second time Davis has found himself in hot water over a comment on social media.
In October, the DFL Party suspended Davis after he wrote on Facebook that Republicans should be brought “to the guillotines” after Election Day.