Yes, I know Tom Burtell the Racist

Tom Burtell at a parent Saline School District diversity meeting

So, yesterday morning I was going through my morning routine, having my coffee, eating cereal with the t.v. on in the background when I heard about the Saline School District meeting. Then I heard Tom Burtell’s name. I nearly choked on my cereal. Yes, it was the bigoted, misogynist narcissistic jerk I used to work with when we were Severstal N. A. in Dearborn, Michigan (now AK Steel Dearborn). He was the same then as he portrayed himself now. Tom, and this is not an exaggeration, the most disliked electrician in our group.

To say he is a racist doesn’t even describe enough the hatred he has for anyone who doesn’t fit his idea of what is right. Frequently he would rant about how “the Jews control the world because they have the money”. He spoke of Blacks bringing down property values around his home. Of how “Arabs” in Dearborn were a menace and should be contained. And don’t get him started on “the Japs”.

For a time, before he left our department, situations nearly came to blows.

Tom Burtell is a sick and twisted individual who revels in the attention he got whenever he expounded on his hateful views. But this sickness is only the tip of the iceberg of what is happening in our country. People like Tom do not exist alone. There are more like him out there and we as a nation must rise and say enough is enough.

August 9th, 2020 Update:

Since I wrote this blog a lot of things have happened (the Pandemic, George Floyd, etc.…) and have had some time to reflect on the things I said. I also talked to Tom Burtell and got his point of view and this is what I now think.

Although I start out saying I know Tom, I didn’t. When I worked in the department, he was in (I was a trades apprentice and moved from one building to another) I didn’t take the time to interact with Tom. After talking to Tom, I now realize he is more than what people superficially see in him. He is a hard worker who continues to do fine work as an electrician in the same company I work for. After many calls for his firing, the union said that he could not be fire for expressing his views outside of the workplace, a view I happen to agree with. That the only thing to be considered should be his exceptional work record.

Tom is also a victim of rumors and second-hand gossip much of which I heard and believed to be true. But like all lies, once you exposed them to the light you see them for what they are -a malicious attempt at cruel bullying. Yes, Tom Burtell was a victim of work-related bullying. “Well, if he didn’t want to be picked on he shouldn’t have said those things.” Yes, that’s easy to say when you’re the tormentor and not the target. These are also the same kind of people that say, “you’re entitled to your opinion as long as it jives with mine.” America was found on the belief that everyone has the right to free speech but when only one side is acceptable how is that freedom? It was a cruel thing that was done to Tom and I regret having to be part of that. People are quick to judge, and in doing so, show their prejudices. “He who is without sin…”.