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GOP Lawmaker Sparks Backlash After Tweeting Racist Chinese Balloon Meme

Mississippi state senator Joel R. Carter, Jr, a Republican, was slammed online for sharing a meme referring to the Chinese spy balloon as "weather barroon.'

Senator Joel R. Carter, Jr.; the Chinese balloon
Senator Joel R. Carter, Jr./Facebook; Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Joel R. Carter Jr.—a Mississippi Repulican state Senator who represents the state's 49th district—sparked backlash online after he shared a meme referring to the Chinese spy balloon as a "weather barroon" in a mockery of Chinese accents.

The meme in question, which Carter Jr. captioned "Biden administration currently" included a picture of the balloon superimposed with the phrases "weather barroon" and “Totary NOT For Spying.”

You can see it below.

Nearly 6,000 residents of Harrison County, Mississippi, the district Carter Jr. represents, are Asian, making his racist meme even more tasteless than might appear on the surface.

The meme attracted the attention of Bill Chandler, executive director of the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, who said Carter Jr. should be "embarrassed" for tweeting the "racist" meme but acknowledged Carter Jr.'s decision to tweet it "is typical of the mentality of many white people here in the state."

When contacted by a reporter with local news station WLOX, Carter initially said he'd been advised not to answer before doing an about-face and calling the meme a "joke" that "was blown way out of proportion."

Carter Jr. also declined to take down the meme, saying it is "a sad day when we can’t be lighthearted."

The backlash has been swift, however, particularly in light of Carter's unrepentant response.

The Chinese spy balloon set off a diplomatic crisis over the last week and the Chinese government said it "regrets" its weather surveillance "airship" accidentally flew over United States' airspace after the Pentagon said a purported spy balloon flew over Montana.

Republicans called for it to immediately be shot down, but the Pentagon advised President Joe Biden to wait until there would be no danger to people or property.

Ultimately, the decision to shoot it down received bipartisan praise even as China characterized the move as an unnecessary provocation and said it reserves the right to retaliate.