Political strategist and former chair of the Democratic National Committee Donna Brazile is being called out for appearing to intentionally mispronounce Vivek Ramaswamy’s name on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” last week.
“Vivek needs to just shut the hell up and go home,” Brazile said. When Maher tried to correct her pronunciation of Ramaswamy’s name, she continued, seemingly intentionally butchering the name again.
“Is it Vai-vehk Ramasama?” she joked in response.
The 38-year-old GOP presidential candidate, who hails from Ohio, responded to Brazile’s comments in a tweet.
“I wonder what they’d do if a white Republican intentionally mispronounced Donna’s name & then told her to return ‘home,’” he said.
The comments have also drawn backlash online.
“Refusing to pronounce someone’s name correctly & telling them to ‘go home’ furthers the perpetual foreigner myth, fostering anti-immigrant sentiment that AAPIs do not belong in the U.S.,” The Asian American Foundation tweeted. “AAPI names are not punchlines & we expect public figures to use their platforms responsibly.”
Some backlash has invoked racist and misogynistic stereotypes against Brazile, who is herself Black, but others called into question how statements like these affect Asian American communities.
“I have plenty of problems with Vivek. But his race and his parents’ nationality isn’t one of them,” one person tweeted.
Brazile did not respond to a request for comment.
“This type of rhetoric historically has contributed to a culture where violence against our community members becomes more acceptable,” tweeted Andy Kang, national director of the Asian American Foundation. “Do better folks. It doesn’t matter who says it. It’s wrong and dangerous.