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David Perdue's Mocking of Kamala Harris' Name is Turning Into the Self-Own to End All Self-Owns

Illustration for article titled David Perdues Mocking of Kamala Harris Name is Turning Into the Self-Own to End All Self-Owns
Photo: Robyn Beck (Getty Images)

It must be hard out here for a Republican these days. Imagine having to choose between being a decent human being and appealing to your deplorable base. We learned all through the Obama years how a foreign-sounding name on a brown person gives racist ass xenophobes conservative voters the heebee jeebees. So I bet when Georgia Sen. David Perdue called vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris, “Kah-mah-la or Kah-ma-la or Kamala-mala-mala, I don’t know, whatever” at a Trump rally on Friday, he thought he was just doing a little good old white-fashioned ribbing and that the fallout would be minimal. Instead, Democrats and others immediately shouted down his bigotry and now social media is awash with immigrants and people of color sharing their stories of how their own names have been mangled and weaponized against them and also sharing the meanings of names they take great pride in. Not to mention the fact that Perdue’s antics appear to have resulted in massive donations to his Democratic opponent in the upcoming election Jon Ossoff.

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As The Root reported Saturday, the official defense for Perdue’s indefensible display of prejudice is that his clear-as-day mocking of Harris’ name was actually just an innocent and completely accidental mispronunciation.

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Here’s Perdue’s communications director John Burke’s tweet which is identical to Perdue’s campaign spokesperson Casey Black’s tweet.

But since many people happen to have eyes and ears and are not deliberately obtuse and wilfully delusional morons, folks on Twitter weren’t buying it.

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And, of course, the flagrant dog-whistling of Senator Per-All-Due-Disrespect opened the floodgates for people of color, especially women of color, to discuss the pride they take in their names as well as their experiences in having their names (among other things) held against them in American society. Thus, the “My name is” hashtag was born.

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Of course, Rep. Ayanna Pressley had to come through and join the chorus line.

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Cori Bush, the Democratic nominee for Missouri’s first congressional district, pointed out that “This is just the tip of the iceberg of running for office as a Black woman.”

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Perdue’s flub that keeps on flubbing apparently had another unintended consequence: It raised funds for his opponent’s campaign, according to Ossoff.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

But the repeated mispronunciation, which his campaign claimed was not purposeful, competed for media attention with Trump’s remarks in Georgia and led to searing criticism on the airwaves and the campaign trail.

By Saturday evening, Democrat Jon Ossoff revealed he raised more than $1 million from at least 42,000 donors from Perdue’s viral moment.

Among the Georgians who penned letters to Perdue panning his remarks was Kumar Krishnan, a Johns Creek resident who sharply reminded the Republican that voters from diverse backgrounds won’t soon forget his comments.

“Need I say, when you insult someone’s identity, you risk alienating many others?”

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According to AJC, Perdue is lying his wrinkly white ass off sticking to his guns in claiming he meant “absolutely no disrespect” to Harris.

“My role in this is to point out the differences in what their agenda is and what our agenda is,” he said. “A lot of Democrats will do or say anything right now to hide their radical, socialist agenda.”

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Sure, Jan. Meanwhile Republicans will “do or say anything right now” to assure their constituents that they share their scorn for all things not white and American—including something as simple as a name.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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DISCUSSION

Dr Emilio Lizardo

In my experience, when someone has a hard to pronounce name (not Kamala. A first grader can say “Kamala” with no difficulty), they get very happy when you say it right or ask them how to pronounce it so you can say it right. A politician, of all people, would understand that. it’s obviously not really about saying her name right here, it’s about “other-ing” her and anybody who says otherwise is either stupid or lying.