House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is defending all the wrong people this week, including former Vice President and 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden, who has faced criticism the past few days after touting working with segregationists at a fundraiser Tuesday night.
Boasting about how a segregationist white senator never called him “boy,” only “son,” Biden spoke about working with the notoriously racist senator Strom Thurmond, who sought to make multiracial families illegal. The dusty, old relic of the past fought tooth and nail to preserve racist policies, and famously began the longest continuous filibuster in U.S. history as a final stand against forces working to overturn segregation.
Yup, seems like a nice guy to work with, let alone to call you “son.”
“Well, guess what?” Biden said. “At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”
Biden’s comments were widely criticized, including by California Senator Kamala Harris, who said Biden clearly “doesn’t understand the history of our country and the dark history of our country.”
Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders also stood up to criticize Biden’s statement. New York City Major Bill de Blasio did so, as well.
But one of their Democratic colleagues was conspicuously absent from the outcry.
Instead, Pelosi defended Biden by calling the presidential candidate “authentic.”
“Authenticity is the most important characteristic that candidates have to convey,” Pelosi said in response to a question from a reporter. “Joe Biden is authentic. … He considers certain things a resource, that he has worked across the aisle. That’s what he was saying. That’s not what this election is about.”
Even if that means being buddies with a racist, apparently.
Pelosi also brushed off recent comments by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose controversial remarks that equated immigrant detention centers to concentration camps landed her once again in deep trouble with the other side of the aisle.
In response to Ocasio-Cortez’s statements, Pelosi warned Democrats to watch what they say, once again missing the point.
At a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Pelosi said her freshman Democrat colleagues represent their districts and their point of view and take responsibility for their statement. But she added that the Democratic caucus must be aware of “how politically charged the atmosphere is” and avoid making statements Republicans may exploit.
New York Democrat Ocasio-Cortez came under fire this week after alleging the government is operating “concentration camps” for migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border during an Instagram live broadcast Monday.
“I want to talk to people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that ‘never again’ means something,” Ocasio-Cortez said in the video. “The fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the ‘Home of the Free’ is extraordinarily disturbing and we need to do something about it.”
Republicans immediately sunk their teeth into Ocasio-Cortez, accusing her of minimizing the experience of Holocaust victims.
But Ocasio-Cortez pushed back, penning tweets hammering the government for creating facitilities where immigrants are “being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying.”
It also looks like Republicans are confused about the definition of concentration camps.
“And for the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference,” Ocasio-Cortez added. “Concentration camps are not the same as death camps. Concentration camps are considered by experts as ‘the mass detention of civilians without trial.’ And that’s exactly what this administration is doing.”
Regardless, the situation quickly exploded into a Twitter war with Republicans and some Jews who were offended by the comparison to concentration camps.
The remarks come off the heels of a decision by the Trump administration to end all educational, recreational and legal services offered to migrant children in U.S. custody.
Trump also recently announced plans to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, an initiative Pelosi herself called the result of “utter malice and bigotry.”
In a statement Tuesday, Pelosi urged the president to “walk away from these cruel, ineffective and discriminatory polices, and work with Democrats to support smart, effective immigration reform that honors our values and keeps families together and safe.”
Sounds like she has the right idea here. But brushing off AOC’s comments may be the wrong move.
It’s time to step back from the semantics, and tackle the problems at hand and call out the inhumanity in front of us for what it really is.
Ocasio-Cortez isn’t the one we should be fighting. It’s the brutal conditions migrants under U.S. custody face, and the administration responsible for those conditions.