Entrepreneur and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy called Democratic Rep Ayanna Pressley and author Ibram X Kendi “modern grand wizards of the modern KKK.”
The inflammatory comment came while Mr Ramaswamy was making a campaign stop in Iowa. Not long after Mr Ramaswamy reportedly introduced himself as the son of poor Indian immigrants, a voter asked if critics would blame him for white supremacy or call him part of it.
“The greatest racism that I have experienced…comes from the modern left at a scale unimaginable,” Mr Ramaswamy started, explaining that he thinks it stems from a feeling of “a sense of betrayal, saying that ‘you’re not speaking the tone that you’re supposed to.’”
Mr Ramaswamy replied, “Ayanna Pressley, she’s in the Congress today. She’s a member of ‘the squad.’ Her words, not mine: ‘We don’t want any more Black faces that don’t want to be a Black voice. We don’t want any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice.’”
The Republican presidential candidate then quoted Mr Kendi’s book How To Be An Antiracist.
“Here’s what it says,” said Mr Ramaswamy “Opening lines: ‘The remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”
The businessman said these aren’t his own words, but “these are the words of the modern grand wizards of the modern KKK,” Mr Ramaswamy remarked.
He told reporters after the event, according to NBC news: “The fact that we’re taught to see each other on the basis of our genetic attributes is something that would make the old wizards of the KKK proud.”
Congresswoman Pressley is the first woman of color to be elected to Congress from Massachusetts. Dr Kendi is the author of nine New York Times bestsellers and is the founder of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University.
The Independent has reached out to Rep Pressley and Dr Kendi for comment.
This isn’t the first time the 2024 presidential candidate has made controversial race-based remarks. He previously called to “cancel Juneteenth or one of the other useless holidays we made up.”
He was later asked about whether he thought Veterans Day or Memorial Day were useless holidays by NBC News, he doubled down on his earlier stance.
“I stand with the presumption of time-tested traditions,” Mr Ramaswamy said, calling Juneteenth “redundant” of Martin Luther King Jr Day and Presidents Day.
“The reason for making it a holiday was under political duress. It was a political hostage situation on the back of the death of George Floyd,” he said.
On Martin Luther King Jr Day last year, the 2024 presidential candidate tweeted a series of posts, praising the “I Have A Dream” speech, before the posts took a turn.
Mr Ramaswamy wrote, “But there’s a powerful new cultural movement in America that threatens to kill MLK’s dream, nearly 60 years later. It says that your identity is based on your race, your gender, and your sexual orientation – and that your skin color determines the content of your beliefs.”
He continued, “We owe it to our nation to reject that siren song. On this day, let’s remember to stand up to the dangerous ideologies that threaten MLK’s dream today, just as so many brave Americans did 60 years ago, from the streets of Selma to the March on Washington. Happy MLK Day to all.”