Conservatives just can’t seem to leave Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) alone. Fox Business responded to her proposed “Green New Deal” on Tuesday by once again attacking her, instead of critiquing her ideas. This time, however, guest economist Peter Morici made the criticism blatantly racist.
“[Y]ou know, there’s ignorance, there’s willful ignorance, and then there’s willful and malicious ignorance — that is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” he said. “The left is just using global warming, climate change, the environment as a stalking horse for socialism. They can’t take away all your money and accomplish this, but they will. That’s what this is about. She’s a demagogue.”
Host Stuart Varney was a bit surprised by this remark, noting that Ocasio-Cortez co-wrote her legislation with Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), who has been serving in Congress for 42 years. “The Democrats really are taking this very, very seriously,” he countered.
But Morici plowed ahead, attacking Ocasio-Cortez’s ethnicity.
“Basically what you have in Ocasio-Cortez are Latin American values,” he insisted. “Instead of us assimilating them, they are assimilating us. And they want to bring the kind of socialism that destroyed Venezuela, and frankly Mexico, here. You know, it isn’t that we’re going to become Venezuela, but we could easily become Mexico, and you won’t be able to go outside your door without getting shot.”
Media Matters captured the video:
Contrary to Morici’s claim, Ocasio-Cortez was born and raised in New York City. Her family hails from Puerto Rico, which is also part of the United States. She has no apparent connection to Latin America whatsoever, let alone specifically Mexico or Venezuela.
Morici’s arguments also echo a common xenophobic belief that people of Hispanic origin have an obligation to “assimilate” to U.S. culture — abandoning their traditions and customs — and that they are resistant or incapable of doing so.
It’s actually a dog whistle signaling that these individuals are somehow inherently inferior because of their country of origin.
Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly made a similar comment last year when he defended the Trump administration’s family separation policy. Undocumented immigrants, he said, aren’t necessarily bad people or criminals, “but they’re also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States, into our modern society.” He argued that because they may have less education and can’t speak English, they are incapable of contributing to American society.
But the facts don’t support the claim. Generation after generation, Hispanic immigrants actually have been learning English faster than most past immigrant populations, resulting in very high assimilation rates.
Given Morici focused on personally attacking Ocasio-Cortez with racial stereotypes instead of actually responding to the ideas in the Green New Deal, his accusation of demagoguery is unfortunately ironic.