Posted on April 29, 2020

Justin Rohrwasser’s Tattoos Deserve Scrutiny, But Breathlessly Calling Him ‘Racist’ Is Wrong as Well

Alex Reimer, Forbes, April 27, 2020

Update: Justin Rohrwasser said Monday night he will remove his controversial tattoo representing the far-right militia group, the Three Percenters.


It would be one matter if rookie Patriots kicker Justin Rohrwasser had just one tattoo on his body connected to a right-wing militia group. {snip}

But Rohrwasser’s tattoo representing the Three Percenters, a far-right militia group that provided armed security for the Charlottesville march in 2017 (though it later denounced the white nationalist groups that attended the march) and protested resettlements of Muslim refugees, is not an isolated piece of body art. The fifth-round kicker out of Marshall has at least two other tattoos with sayings that are popular with the alt-right: “Don’t Tread on Me” and “Liberty or Death.”

In addition, Rohrwasser has an active social media habit of liking prominent alt-right conspiracy theorists — such as Dinesh D’Souza and Candace Owens. {snip}

To state the obvious, it’s apparent Rohrwasser possesses far-right views. {snip} But breathlessly labeling him a racist, as several liberal commentators have done, is harmful as well. It makes the appropriate questions surrounding Rohrwasser’s beliefs seem reactionary and invalid.

In a conference call with reporters Saturday, Rohrwasser said he got the Three Percenters image, which includes the Roman numeral III surrounded by 13 stars in a circle, to show support for the military. “Obviously, it’s evolved into something that I do not want to represent,” he said, via the New York Times. “When I look back on it, I should have done way more research before I put any mark or symbol like that on my body, and it’s not something that I ever want to represent. It will be covered.”


The explanation seems justifiable, especially since Rohrwasser got the tattoo as a young college student at Rhode Island before transferring to Marshall. Now, it’s apparent Rohrwasser wasn’t particularly ashamed of the tattoo prior to Saturday, because he’s never covered it before. But he says he’s going to cover it going forward. {snip}

And therein lies the central problem with labeling Rohrwasser a “white supremacist” based off tattoos with pro-Second Amendment slogans and a seeming affection for Donald Trump: it leaves no room for personal growth. {snip}


It is possible, if not entirely normal, for young adults to evolve intellectually. Immediately labeling Rohrwasser a “racist” is just as infantile as dismissing his tattoos as inconsequential.