WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan is known for his free-wheeling social media presence.
Local activists in his district, however, say the South Carolina Republican from Laurens this time might have gone too far.
The 3rd Congressional District's chapter of Indivisible — a national organization aimed at fighting President Donald Trump's administration — posted a screenshot shortly after 9:30 p.m. Tuesday calling attention to an image Duncan posted on Facebook.
The image depicts a white man with a noose around his neck, labeled "Europe." The other end of the rope is tied around the trunk of a much smaller tree, labeled "Islam." The man is gesturing toward the tree with a watering can, the insinuation being that Europe is nurturing, to its own fatal detriment, a religion some in the West are associating with terrorism.
"Chew on this picture a little," Duncan wrote in his own caption. "The tree is much taller today."
The Indivisible chapter on Twitter called the image a "white supremacist meme."
"Jeff I know you're not racist. Let's put that to the side," Bakari Sellers, a former Democratic member of the state Legislature and now a CNN contributor, tweeted in response. "But this is bigoted, ignorant and embarrassing."
Sellers' tweet came Wednesday afternoon, hours after the post had already been deleted from Duncan's page.
In a statement to The Post and Courier on Wednesday afternoon, Duncan was bullish.
“I've never been politically correct, nor do I care to be," Duncan said. "The truth is that Europe has allowed radical Islam to grow unchecked for too long, which has led to their current predicament. I want to keep America safe. Sometimes that means having to shove political correctness aside, being honest about the threats facing our country, and taking precautions like the ones President Trump has tried to implement.”
He did not address why he did not leave the post online, but a spokesman followed up.
The congressman “figured the media would probably choose to sensationalize something this trivial, instead of engaging in an actual dialog about how to keep America safe, which has always been his goal," the spokesman said.
The post was consistent with Duncan's record of speaking out against so-called political correctness that he and others believe risks public safety at home and abroad with the continued rise of the terrorist group known as the Islamic State.
Duncan has introduced the "Terrorist Deportation Act," which would deport any non-citizen whose name appears on a terrorist watch list. It has 12 co-sponsors, including fellow South Carolina Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson of Aiken.
Duncan is a firm supporter of Trump's proposed restrictions on travel to the U.S. from certain Muslim-majority countries, the constitutionality of which is being debated in court.
"The United Kingdom has suffered from 3 Islamic terrorist attacks in the past 3 months, and has prevented an additional 5 from taking place. For the past several years, I have called for us to put political correctness aside and do what is right for the country to keep our citizens safe," Duncan wrote on Facebook on June 4. "Our borders and broken immigration system are the soft underbelly of our country. We must take the necessary and appropriate precautions to prevent the war against radical Islam from spreading to our shores."