WASHINGTON: From US President Donald Trump himself promoting pernicious “birther” theories about her eligibility to run for high office, to his surrogates and supporters referring to her with coarse expletives, the American right wing has unleashed a vicious racist attack on Kamala Harris, the mixed-race Democratic nominee for vice-president.
Trump passed up a second opportunity on Saturday to affirm Harris’ eligibility that has been confirmed by constitutional scholars and legal experts, preferring instead to praise a lawyer who raised doubts about her eligibility in Newsweek magazine.
“I don’t know about it. I read one quick article. The lawyer happens to be a brilliant lawyer, as you probably know. He wrote an article saying it could be a problem. It’s not something that I’m going to be pursuing,” Trump said, even as Newsweek apologized for the op-ed, which it said “is being used by some as a tool to perpetuate racism and xenophobia.”
“We entirely failed to anticipate the ways in which the essay would be interpreted, distorted and weaponized,” read the apology, without mentioning the chief weaponiser.
Trump’s racist flock feasted on the red meat thrown at them, unleashing vulgar vituperative attacks on Harris, willfully mispronouncing and distorting her name, as one Fox News host did, being least of the offenses.
On Twitter, Eric Trump, the president’s son, favorited a tweet, which was later deleted, that referred to Harris as a “whorendous pick.” NBA sacked a photographer who posted a meme on social media that referred to “Joe and the Hoe.”
Trump himself was excoriated by many commentators for what they see as racist and sexist attacks, which include repeatedly calling her “nasty,” his go-to pejorative for assertive women. Even the Murdoch-owned New York Post that fawns over him advised him to give up that line of attack, while the rival New York Daily News called him a “natural-born hater” for his “vicious, cowardly smear” of Kamala Harris.
“Donald Trump says these things simply because of what Barack Obama and Kamala Harris look like, and where their parents came from. We need to stop calling this ‘birtherism.’ Let’s call it what it is: racism,” one tv commentator noted.
The attacks on Harris, who has remained above the fray and refrained from reacting to them, came even as polls showed more Americans approve than disapprove of Biden’s choice by a 25-point margin, 54-29%.
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll showed approval of the pick ranges from 86-8% among Democrats to 25-55% among Republicans. It is 52-29% among independents, potential swing voters in presidential election
The poll also revealed 78 % of Black people and 65% of Hispanics approve of Biden’s choice of Harris, compared with 46% of whites. Disapproval of Harris’ selection is highest among conservatives, white evangelicals, rural voters, and non college-educated white men, all core Trump support groups.
Right wing commentators waded into the relatively modest 78 per cent approval among blacks (compared to the over 90 per cent that Obama got) to sow seeds of doubt about her “blackness” even as Indian right-wing expressed its doubt about her “Indianness” because she presents herself as black.
Conservative commentator Mark Levin maintained that If Harris wins, she would be the “first vice president of color,” but not “African American” because she is Indian and Jamaican, and her ancestry “does not go back to American slavery.”
Harris herself underscored her ties to India in a video message to Indian-Americans on the occasion of India’s Independence day, recalling how her mother always wanted to instill in her a “love for good idli.”
“When my mother, Shyamala stepped off the plane in California as 19 years old, she didn’t have much in the way of belongings. But she carried with her lessons from back home, including ones she learned from her parents, my grandmother Rajam, and her father, my grandfather P V Gopalan. They taught her that when you see injustice in the world, you have an obligation to do something about it,” she said, adding, “Which is what inspired my mother to march and shout on the streets of Oakland, at the height of the civil rights movement, a movement where leaders including Dr Martin Luther King Jr, were themselves inspired by the non-violent activism of Mahatma Gandhi.”


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