Sen. John McCollister of Omaha, a Republican, has called out his party for "enabling white supremacy in our country" and called upon Republican members of Congress to speak up now.

"We have a Republican president who continually stokes racist fears in his base," McCollister said in a series of tweets.  

"We have Republican senators and representatives who look the other way and say nothing for fear that it will negatively affect their elections.

"No more," McCollister tweeted. "When the history books are written, I refuse to be someone who said nothing."

McCollister, the son of a former Omaha congressman, is serving his second and final term in the nonpartisan Legislature, where he is known as an independent voice.

His series of tweets went viral, quickly accumulating more than 130,000 likes and being retweeted more than 30,000 times. The Washington Post gave McCollister's remarks attention in the nation's capital with a separate story.

"As a lifelong Republican, it pains me to say this," McCollister tweeted, "but it's the truth.

"The time is now for us Republicans to be honest with what is happening inside our party," he wrote. "We are better than this and I implore my Republican colleagues to stand up and do the right thing."

Gov. Pete Ricketts took to Twitter on Monday afternoon to counter McCollister's assessment.

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"Contrary to baseless accusations made on social media, the Republican Party does not tolerate such hateful views," the GOP governor tweeted.

"I applaud President @realDonaldTrump's renewed denunciation of the bigoted and racist beliefs of the #ElPaso killer," Ricketts stated.

"White supremacy and racism have no place in our country, and they must be driven out," the governor said. "I have said this repeatedly and will say it again and again."

During a telephone interview, McCollister said he had been considering speaking up for some time.

"The tipping point was the shootings this past weekend," he said. "I think our president helped initiate the climate that made this possible."

McCollister said he has heard from "one or two of my legislative colleagues on the Republican side" who were unhappy with him, but he has encountered "far more support from Republicans" generally than the blowback that he had anticipated.

CNN and BBC quickly scheduled interviews to explore his views.

The New York Times asked him to submit an op-ed essay.

And his series of tweets sharply amplified his voice in the future: McCollister's number of "followers" on Twitter zoomed from 650 to more than 11,000 within hours.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.


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