Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who once spoke out against President Donald Trump’s racism, adopted an “if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em” philosophy on Monday, echoing the president’s racist attacks against progressive Democratic congresswomen of color.
Graham attacked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) by name and others by association during a Fox News interview, claiming they were “Communists” who “hate our own country.”
Graham specifically criticized “this crowd” — an apparent reference to Ocasio-Cortez and Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN). Trump had attacked the four lawmakers in a series of racist tweets over the weekend, suggesting the four should “go back” to their home countries to “help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
Three of the congresswomen were born in the United States. Omar immigrated here from Somalia as a child.
“We all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of Communists, they hate Israel, they hate our own country, they’re calling the guards along our border — the border patrol agents — concentration camp guards,” Graham said Monday, piling on top of Trump’s racist comments. “They accuse people who support Israel as doing it ‘for the Benjamins.’ They’re anti-Semitic, they’re anti-America.”
Ocasio-Cortez responded to Graham’s comments Monday afternoon, tweeting, “I see @LindseyGrahamSC’s biggest issue w/ Trump’s racism is that it doesn’t go far enough – Graham wants to bring back 1950s McCarthyism, too. GOP is doing this because they have no plan for our future.”
She added, “We’re the ones fighting for healthcare, edu, good jobs, & they got nothing.”
Accusing one’s opponents of being Communists is hardly a new trope in American political discourse. In the 1950s, Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) and others famously accused American citizens of secretly being Communists — often without evidence and often destroying their lives. The term “McCarthyism” has since become synonymous with accusing people, with little or no evidence, of disloyalty or treason.
Graham himself used to condemn this approach.
Last year, he angrily denounced the women who had come forward with allegations of sexual predation against Trump’s then-Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. “This is as close to McCarthyism as I hope we get in my lifetime,” he charged.
Lindsey Graham: "This is as close to McCarthyism as I hope we get in my lifetime. You're guilty, until you're proven innocent. Whatever it takes to take you down, we'll do. If one allegation is not enough how about five?" pic.twitter.com/04m4TQiarf
— The Hill (@thehill) October 6, 2018
Three years ago, Graham also attacked then-candidate Trump for McCarthyism after Trump publicly questioned whether an Indiana-born federal judge was biased against him because he was “a Mexican.”
Graham at the time said Trump’s comments were “un-American” and played “the race card.”
“This is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy,” Graham told The New York Times.
Now, as Trump continues to smear non-white Americans as dangerous and disloyal “others,” Graham is joining right in.
Trump quoted Graham’s comments approvingly on Monday morning, in a series of tweets. “Need I say more?” he added.