Just when you thought racial ignorance had reached an all-time high in American politics, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) steps up to provide the most confusing comment of the day.
In an interview with Vice News on Tuesday, Kelly declared that he considers himself to be a “person of color” because he’s white as Democrats made calls to condemn President Donald Trump‘s attacks on four Congresswomen of color.
“You know, they talk about people of color. I’m a person of color. I’m white. I’m an Anglo Saxon. People say things all the time, but I don’t get offended because people say things,” Kelly told Vice.
“With the name Mike Kelly you can’t be from any place else but Ireland.”
Kelly obviously missed the memo entirely that for centuries spiteful American racism and anti-Blackness have made Black descendants of slaves subject to a “one-drop” rule. It has castigated them into an oppressive caste system all on their own when it comes to the “persons of color” designation.
Simply put: there’s no comparison.
And while European immigrants may have faced discrimination at various points in history, many employed white privilege to assimilate or “pass” in an effort to distance themselves from Black Americans. The Irish Times provides a surprising poignant example of how Irish immigrants in the mid-19th century traded their cultural identity for being labeled as plain, old, white Americans leaving any commonality with Black Americans behind.
After the backlash, Rep. Kelly, defended his comments saying, “The reporter’s tweet mischaracterized our conversation and my broader point: We’re all created equal. It’s time to stop fixating on our differences and focus on what unites us.”
“You know, they talked about people of color. I’m a person of color. I’m white.” – Rep. Mike Kelly pic.twitter.com/pZm0dgEQpA
— Daniel Newhauser (@dnewhauser) July 16, 2019
Listening to the full five-minute audio exchange between Kelly and the Vice reporter, you’ll hear the 71-year old avoid answering the question and instead wondered what the Congresswomen said to provoke Trump.
He also defended Trump by accusing liberals of consistently attacking the President regardless of whatever he says, even if it’s a simple “good morning,” calling the backlash from Dems “a double standard.”
Despite Trump insisting that the four Congresswomen, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) “go back” to “corrupt countries” where they came from, it’s worth repeating that there’s no “from” to go back to… except for the United States.
All four representatives are U.S. citizens, including Rep. Ocasio-Cortez who is of Puerto Rican descent (Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the U.S., still in despair from Hurricane Maria and years of financial neglect from the mainland), Rep. Tlaib who was born in Detroit, MI in 1976 and is of Palestinian heritage, Rep. Pressley who was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1974, and Rep. Omar who immigrated from Somalia as a child to escape violence in 1992 and became a U.S. citizen at 17 years old.
Kelly’s lack of courage to address the obvious racial overtones of Trump’s tweets, or the common sense to correct their inaccurate claims means he deserves all the dragging that’s coming his way.
Person of color?
Nice try, Mike, but you can’t sit with us.