UK politician ripped for calling VP-elect Kamala Harris ‘the Indian’
UK pol A member of the UK’s House of Lords was blasted Monday for referring to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as “the Indian” – and claimed he did so because he had not “known her name yet,” according to a report.
“What happens if Biden moves on and the Indian becomes President. Who then becomes Vice President?” Lord Kilclooney said in a racially tinged tweet Monday morning.
Harris, the daughter of an Indian-American mother and a Jamaican-American father, is the first woman and first woman of color to be elected US veep.
Lord Kilclooney — also known as John Taylor — is a former deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist Party who now sits in the Lords, as a crossbench life peer in the upper house of Parliament.
Jon Wolfsthal, a former special adviser to President-elect Joe Biden, told Lord Kilclooney that he “should be ashamed” and reminded him that Harris “is American,” the BBC reported.
Speaker Lord Fowler asked Lord Kilclooney to apologize and retract his remark, saying, “This is an offensive way to refer to anyone, let alone a woman who has just made history.
“The comment is entirely unacceptable and has no place in British politics. I could not be clearer,” he added.
Lord Kilclooney withdrew it but denied that his tweet was racist and did not apologize, the BBC reported.
“Whilst Biden is proud to be Irish and Harris is rightly proud of her Indian background I certainly withdraw my reference to her as an Indian as it seems to have upset some people,” he tweeted later Monday.
“I did not know her name and identified her with the term Indian. Most people understood. Racist NO,” he added.
Baroness Smith, Labour’s leader in the Lords, was among those who said they would report Lord Kilclooney over his remarks, according to the BBC.
“I am so angry about this comment,” she said. “It is despicable and beneath contempt, and totally unacceptable from anyone — but especially from someone in Parliament.”
Conservative MP Simon Hoare, who chairs the Northern Ireland affairs select committee, described the tone deaf tweet as: “Bad. Rude. Racist. Appalling.”
Lord Kilclooney told the PA news agency that “the first thing is to get it in perspective, the criticism is minor, the support is massive — I’ve never had so many Twitter followers in one day, ever.
“I’m very fond of India myself, I’m a member of the British India all-party group, I have two Indians (tenants) in my flats here in London and there’s nothing racist in it whatsoever,” he added.
Lord Kilclooney also made headlines in 2018, when he called the then Taoiseach, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, a “typical Indian.” He later described is characterization as a mistake.
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