Politician steps down over insensitive Mandela tweet

John de Laet
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The GroenLinks official who made the news last week after a racially insensitive tweet following Nelson Mandela’s death, has resigned. John de Laet, an Amsterdam-West board member of the party initially said that his tweet in which he linked Mandela’s passing with the blackface Zwarte Piet tradition in the Netherlands, was meant as sarcasm, but the party found it inappropriate.

John de Laet's Twitter profile photo

De Laet’s had disgusted many when he tweeted on Thursday night December 5: “Hey, is anybody still wondering whether the draw of the football world championships 2014 will be fair? After the death of the hoofdpiet.” It was one of several racially insentive blunders that made the press after the death of the iconic South African leader who will be laid to rest tomorrow. He was quick to apologize.

GroenLinks’ board said the tweet had been inconsiderate, “because it used the word hoofdpiet, that many people were using at that moment as an ironic wink. But it could be interpreted as a degrading insult. Using the word in a tweet was thoughtless,” the board said in a statement in which it announced De Laet’s resignation.

Groenlinks politician John de Laet's Tweet about Nelson Mandella (NL Times graphic)

The statement included an explanation from De Laet, in which he apologized again, saying that the tweet had been dumb and unfitting. “Groenlinks has always been the party that fights against discrimination; that is one of the reasons why it is my party. I resign my board membership because I do not want there to be uncertainty about our efforts against discrimination,” he said.

The party said it regretted the development, but that De Laet was stepping down in the interest of the party. “John had only Sunday been appointed board member. We know him as an integer and dedicated member and campaigner.”