After one student posted several screen shots of a Facebook conversation in which Student Body President candidate Dwayne O’Rear made several anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic remarks, the post went viral and spread from Reddit to Facebook, earning O’Rear negative attention he claims he doesn’t deserve.
Ian Shearer, a senior in international studies, posted the screen shots to the N.C. State subreddit page on Saturday evening. By Sunday afternoon, somebody had posted the images to the Wolfpack Students group on Facebook, where they attracted the attention and disgust of many students.
The screen shots depict a conversation that took place on Josh Girón’s Facebook in April 2011. Girón, now a junior in computer engineering, originally posted a status about President Obama, which immediately sparked a debate between O’Rear and several other students about President Obama’s religious affiliation. In the conversation, O’Rear attacked the president and a Muslim student, saying Islam is a false religion and is “frowned upon.”
The screen shots outraged many students and prompted several people to post screen shots they had taken of other offensive interactions O’Rear had posted on various social media sites. Among these posts were comments bashing gay people and women.
According to O’Rear, he was unaware of all but one of the screen shots and posts on the Wolfpack Students page.
“When these comments occurred, I stayed in a hall-style dorm, and I often left my door unlocked and my Facebook up, and sometimes I’d get control of my Facebook and sometimes I would not,” O’Rear said in regard to the anti-Muslim post.
O’Rear also said he doesn’t have a lock on his phone, which allowed a friend, who he refused to name, to make a tweet about a female basketball announcer for ESPN.
One student, however, said he doesn’t believe O’Rears story.
Brian Panasiak, a junior in religious studies, lived down the hall from Dwayne in Owen Hall during the 2010-2011 academic year and said this post was typical of O’Rear’s interactions with his peers.
“He was very vocal in his beliefs about not liking groups of people,” Panasiak said. “Everyone knew he didn’t like gays, everyone knew he didn’t like Muslims.”
Panasiak continued to say O’Rear was known to have an abrasive and, at times, antagonistic personality.
“Derogatory language was a regular part of Dwayne’s vocab,” Panasiak said. “It was common speech for him, calling people gay, f*****t, c***sucker.”
Panasiak said he doesn’t doubt that it was O’Rear who posted the hateful comments on his Facebook.
Marshal Crawley, a junior in English and friend of Panasiak, agreed that it was likely O’Rear who posted the anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim comments on Girón’s wall and took it upon himself to take the screen shots that surfaced on Reddit Saturday night.
One of the targets of O’Rear’s hateful rant, Yousef Abu-Salha, a senior in biology at UNC-Chapel Hill, said he saw O’Rear’s comment and felt obliged to correct the allegation that Obama is a Muslim.
“It is outrageous that one could be automatically classified as a Muslim based on an Arabic middle name,” Abu-Salha said. “Obama’s father was Muslim, but Islam is a religion and a choice rather than an inheritance.”
Abu-Salha had not met O’Rear at the time of the comment-thread argument. But after reading the apology O’Rear posted on the Wolfpack students page Sunday afternoon, which has since been removed, Abu-Salha said he believes it was O’Rear who he was speaking with on Facebook in 2011 and not a mysterious status-jacker.
According to Abu-Salha, O’Rear’s apology was tailored to the people he offended with his ant-Muslim and anti-Islamic remarks.
All of the screen shots and comments about O’Rear posted on the Wolfpack students page were removed Sunday afternoon at the request of O’Rear, who insists that the recent controversy has not hurt his campaign in any way.
“My campaign has responded positively,” O’Rear said. “We are not going to let adversity and certain things hurt our campaign that are untrue.”
Regardless of whether it was O’Rear or someone else who posted all of the hateful comments in his name, on numerous occasions, O’Rear said he will use this as a learning experience.
“I need to monitor my accounts, and if problems like this arise, I need to deal with them in the mindset of ‘students first,’ rather than my own personal interests, if they do arise,” O’Rear said.
Hopefully, O’Rear will make good on this promise, because as his tweets and Facebook posts prove, he hasn’t learned this lesson yet.
O’Rear’s roommate from his freshman year, Bruce Hall II, now a junior in business administration, declined comment when he was contacted to verify O’Rear’s story.