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AOC Stresses Moral Obligation to Afghan Refugees as Fox Revives Racist Tropes

Media watchers called out the white supremacist tropes right-wing media were invoking in talking about the refugees.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) speaks at a press conference outside of the U.S. Capitol on July 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) has called on the United States to fulfill its “moral obligation to the Afghan people” by swiftly accepting refugees into the country in light of the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan.

But even as Ocasio-Cortez and progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California) call for a more humanitarian approach toward those affected by the U.S.’s 20 years of military occupation and sudden departure from Afghanistan, right-wing media have resorted to racist and exclusionary language in speaking of the refugees.

In a series of tweets on the matter, Ocasio-Cortez explained why she felt it was important for the U.S. to assist thousands of refugees affected by the Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan this past week.

“We must waste no time or expense in helping refugees safely & swiftly leave Afghanistan,” the New York congresswoman wrote. “We must immediately welcome them to the U.S. & provide real support as they rebuild their lives.”

“For all those who lost, sacrificed, suffered, and served in the last 20 years of war and occupation, the United States has a singular responsibility in extending safe refuge to the Afghan people,” she added. “That is the absolute floor.”

A number of mainstream conservative voices, however, including Fox News personalities Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, described Afghan refugees in bigoted terms, using racist tropes that have been historically used against immigrants and refugees before.

“Is it really our responsibility to welcome thousands of potentially unvetted refugees from Afghanistan?” Ingraham asked her viewers. “All day, we’ve heard phrases like, ‘We’ve promised them.’ Well, who did? Did you?”

Ingraham’s qualms don’t match reality. The process of accepting refugees into the United States is notoriously (and oftentimes painstakingly) thorough, and can take years to complete in many cases. Each individual’s background — including their political affiliations, identity, and more — is deeply examined by a number of U.S. security agencies, a point that Ingraham omitted from her diatribe.

Carlson also criticized calls for accepting refugees into the U.S.

“We will see many refugees from Afghanistan resettle in our country, and over the next decade, that number may swell to the millions. So first we invade, and then we are invaded,” he said.

The comments from Carlson, Ingraham, and others were described by The Daily Show digital producer Matt Negrin as “openly reciting” concepts ascribed to “white replacement theory” — a white supremacist belief that there is a conspiratorial movement to reduce the white population in the U.S. and elsewhere.

“Journalists unfamiliar with Fox should call this white supremacy, not just ‘anti-refugee rhetoric,'” Negrin wrote on Twitter, sharing screenshots of what the Fox News hosts and other far right voices had said publicly about refugees.

Negrin elaborated on his views by sharing more images of media organizations using tampered language to describe how right-wing commentators were discussing the matter.

“The press’s inevitable unwillingness to call this what it is — the same way they wouldn’t call Trump racist — is their tacit gift to Republicans who know they can spray their audience with carbon copy nazi manifestos and enjoy being described by mainstream outlets as ‘firebrands,'” Negrin added.

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