Matt Gaetz has suddenly announced to the general public that he has a 19-year-old son, and the internet is torn between making fun of Gaetz, wondering why he kept his son a secret for half a dozen years, and trying to figure out what the backstory is.
Perhaps Gaetz would never have mentioned his son except for this exchange with Representative Cedric Richmond, of Louisiana. Richmond was discussing police reform, and addressing specifically the danger to black men from police. Gaetz asked Richmond to yield, and asked, “Are you suggesting that you’re certain that none of us have non-white children? Because you reflected on your black son and said none of us could understand.”
What on earth made Matt Gaetz think he could take on The Gentleman From Louisiana lmao?!🔥 pic.twitter.com/cOe3ci1nSI
— Maya Harris (@mayaharris_) June 17, 2020
Suddenly the whole internet was on a fact-finding mission. Was Gaetz trying to claim he has a black son? As the mockery flew, Gaetz decided it was time for a revelation. He shared that he had a son, Nestor, who came here — “legally, of course” — from Cuba, who he’s been raising since the boy was 12.
For all those wondering, this is my son Nestor. We share no blood but he is my life. He came from Cuba (legally, of course) six years ago and lives with me in Florida.
I am so proud of him and raising him has been the best, most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life. pic.twitter.com/JB96wzOzYU
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) June 18, 2020
Rather than end the speculation, this merely fueled it. Why had Gaetz kept Nestor a secret until now? Why has Nestor appeared in Gaetz’ social media posts, referred to as “a local student” and “a helper,” if Gaetz is raising him as a son? There were also some inappropriate jokes and assumptions, which Devin Nunes’ Cow was fortunately present to call out.
If Matt Gaetz helped Nestor, is close to him, treats and sees him like a son, all good. In fact, great. But the manner in which it was revealed…all of it…especially in light of his exchange yesterday…is weird.
— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) June 18, 2020
Matt Gaetz is full of shit. Why did he refer to Nester as a "local student" in one of his posts a couple years ago. Something is weird about his political prop son. pic.twitter.com/tNfQeBpiHZ
— Alex Cole (@acnewsitics) June 18, 2020
If you listen closely, Matt Gaetz ALMOST mistakenly refers to "helper" Nestor here as his SON…
Whew! Crisis averted.pic.twitter.com/7I9pw3UwmY
— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) June 18, 2020
So, Nestor has been described in public posts as a local student, a page, a helper, and now his son. So who is Nestor, really? That’s anyone’s Gaetz.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) June 18, 2020
Huh, here is Matt Gaetz being sworn in to Congress…with all of his family. One would think he would want his Son in this photo. pic.twitter.com/WfiD3qJdU8
— Bryan Minehart (@BryanMinehart) June 18, 2020
Please don’t use the Matt Gaetz adopted son/prior page/prior intern issue to make cracks about gay men. There’s plenty about Matt’s performance as a congressman and human being to criticize! Thank you💗🐮
— Devin Nunes’ cow 🐮 (@DevinCow) June 18, 2020
Gaetz himself doubled down, tweeting photos of “my non-white son,” and maintaining this as evidence that he understood the plight of fathers of young black men and teenagers who fear for their children.
"My non-white son."
Who the fuck talks like this?
Besides Matt Gaetz, of course. https://t.co/xZlbXx8uKs
— Bill Madden (he/him/él) (@maddenifico) June 18, 2020
He also retweeted a post from a former Florida legislator giving some more background.
I am seeing so many hateful comments about Matt Gaetz & Nestor. When that kid lost his mom, Matt was dating his sister and he stepped up. Plain and simple. He has been an outstanding role model & mentor for Nestor and anyone that served with Matt knows this great kid 🇨🇺🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/lD96jI54nQ
— Jose Felix Diaz (@josefelixdiaz) June 18, 2020
However, several Twitter users got down to the central point. However great a dad Gaetz has been to this young man, in this case, he used Nestor as a talking point to shut down a black legislator who was talking about his concerns about black children in the current policing environment in the United States. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s reporter, Tia Mitchell, who had been told before that Gaetz was in a relationship with a POC with a son, and that he was for this reason offended at being called racist, called it out very specifically: Gaetz didn’t then, and doesn’t, now, get to use proximity to POC as evidence that he’s not being racist, she explained.
Everyone trying to figure out if Matt Gaetz has a son or adopted a son, and what color is the young man, are still missing the point: Having people of color in his life doesn't immunize him from being accused of racism or not doing right by black people.
— Tia "Very Calm Sis" Mitchell (@TIAreports) June 18, 2020
An executive editor for American Independent addressed the same thing, as did a reporter for the DC Sentinel.
Just so I'm clear: Matt Gaetz is claiming he has an adopted son he's been keeping a secret for 7 years but trotted out to score points against Democrats who have the audacity to be concerned about police violence against black men?
Did I get that right?
— Kaili Joy Gray (@KailiJoy) June 18, 2020
The most charitable explanation for the Gaetz thing is that he finally decided to publicly reveal he has a son in order to win an argument he had the prior day during a committee markup.
— Sam Sacks (@SamSacks) June 18, 2020
Ultimately, after a day of poking fun, the Twitterverse seems to have arrived at a conclusion: if Gaetz is a great dad, that’s a wonderful thing, but if he’s using his kid as a means to shut down conversation and, in particular, to silence black voices, he’s going to get called out for it. Again, the consensus is that proximity to people of color, even having beloved people of color in one’s life, does not preclude a person from racist behavior, and doesn’t exempt a person from being called out on it.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com