Who is Tom Burtell? Lindsey Graham compared to George Costanza lookalike, Twitter trends 'you need to leave' again
Lindsey Graham's repeated pro-Trump comments circling the former US President's impeachment trial have created yet another Twitter storm, and this time the senior United States Senator from South Carolina is being compared to a racist parent and George Costanza-lookalike Tom Burtell from a viral video that popularized the anti-racism catchphrase, "You need to leave".
Around one year ago, on February 3, 2020, a video captured a tense moment in a community meeting on diversity, equity and inclusion in the Saline Area schools in Michigan. Restaurant owner Adrian Iraola was in the middle of describing his son’s difficult experiences as a Hispanic student in the predominantly white school district, south of Ann Arbor, when a fellow parent, Tom Burtell, asked, “then why didn’t you stay in Mexico?” Immediately after he shot his racist question, there were audible gasps from the others at the community meeting, who turned to look at Burtell. One particularly, high-pitched lady among them then said in a very offended voice, "You need to leave!"
Back in 2020, the focus was on the case that led to the diversity meeting in the community in the first place – school officials had just suspended four white students after they used the 'N' word and made white supremacy statements in a Snapchat group in January 2020.
There was also a lot of heat on Burtell, the racist parent, who at the time, had six children attending schools in the district. His son, university student Matt Burtell, at the time, had also condemned his father's words, saying: "His views of hate in no way represent my own. I stand in solidarity with the refugees and immigrants of the world."
However, even though the exchange was picked up by national news networks and major newspapers at the time, none of the reports had actually focussed on the immediate response of the others at the meeting to the racist and provocative question. The video has now gone viral not because of Burtell but rather for the response to his racism – in particular, the "You need to leave!" shout from the unknown irate woman at the meeting.
The video clip was reposted with the caption "forever funny" and the repost has coincided with Trump's impeachment trial in the aftermath of the Capitol riots, which was led by White supremacists.
The words of the woman rejecting racism, from one year ago, have now become the official Twitter catchphrase calling out Lindsey Graham for his defense of Trump and his tweet in which he said: "The 'Not Guilty' vote is growing after today. I think most Republicans found the presentation by the House Managers offensive and absurd." He also posted his full-length interview in which he called the impeachment arguments "looney tunes".
One user remarked: "Lindsey Graham is offensive and absurd @LindseyGrahamSC you need to leave!", linked to the viral video. Another user had even created Tik Tok video which she posted on YouTube with the caption: "Can we get the "YOU NEED TO LEAVE" lady to show up at Lindsey Graham's office daily?" Another tweet replied saying: "I apologize I'm laughing at the way her voice came out of nowhere "YOU NEED TO LEAVE" I love it! The man raised his hands like I thought we were in this together. Yes show up at Lindsey Graham office." Another user echoed the sentiments, saying: "I love the lady that yells "YOU NEED TO LEAVE!" as well. She's got the guts to stand up and tell Lindsey Graham she wasn't gonna take his sh*t anymore." Another tweet imagined Graham's reaction to it, saying, "I hope we can get the "YOU NEED TO LEAVE" lady to show up a Lindsey Graham's office every day. Can you just see him cringing hearing it? It would be so fun to be on the fly on the wall watching it."
Can we get the "YOU NEED TO LEAVE" lady to show up at Lindsey Graham's office every day? https://t.co/O5wWv1eaTT— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) February 11, 2021
I apologize I'm laughing at the way her voice came out of nowhere "YOU NEED TO LEAVE" I love it! The man raised his hands like I thought we were in this together. Yes show up at Lindsey Graham office.— @krystle (@krystlelyte) February 11, 2021
I love the lady that yells "YOU NEED TO LEAVE!" as well. She's got the guts to stand up and tell Lindsey Graham she wasn't gonna take his shit anymore.— realKathrynJordan (@realKathrynJor1) February 11, 2021
I hope we can get the "YOU NEED TO LEAVE" lady to show up a Lindsey Graham's office every day. Can you just see him cringing hearing it? It would be so fun to be on the fly on the wall watching it. https://t.co/bYGp9RANTg— realKathrynJordan (@realKathrynJor1) February 11, 2021
The 'Not Guilty' vote is growing after today.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) February 11, 2021
I think most Republicans found the presentation by the House Managers offensive and absurd.
Burtell, according to Twitter users, also looked like a "George Costanza" in the wild, referring to the permanently clueless character of Seinfeld with a knack for making bad decisions. One tweet said: "Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised at how OUTRAGED everybody was. And then George Costanza’s f**kin shrug like “heyyyyyy, we’re all racists here, right? I’m glad that he was THOROUGHLY shamed for that." Soon after Lindsey Graham too was compared to "George Costanza" in a tweet which said: "@LindseyGrahamSC has no shame. He would absolutely do the George Costanza and eat the eclair from the garbage. of Congress!"
Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised at how OUTRAGED everybody was. And then George Costanza’s fuckin shrug like “heyyyyyy, we’re all racists here, right? 🤷 “— Lawrie ✨2021✨ (@indextwo) February 11, 2021
I’m glad that he was THOROUGHLY shamed for that.
Nobody, and I mean nobody on planet earth, pays attention to a single thing that Lindsey Graham says, except realize that whatever he says is the opposite of reality.— Bill wolf (@Wwolfhunt) August 13, 2019
Lindsey Graham is the George
Costanza of Congress! pic.twitter.com/p8ZYEuPC2L
Back then, the community of Saline had taken a strong offense to Burtell's comments and not only visited the victimized Iraola's restaurant to show their support but also showed up at the well-attended Saline Diversity Inclusion Rally on February 5, 2020. It is still unclear how Republicans will vote during the impeachment trial since Graham said: "All I can say is count me out, enough is enough".