Former DNC chair faces backlash for intentionally mispronouncing Vivek Ramaswamy’s name
Political strategist Donna Brazile is facing criticism for allegedly intentionally mispronouncing GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy’s name on HBO’s talk show “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
Brazile’s pronunciation: In the episode last week, Brazile, the former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), was corrected on how to pronounce Ramaswamy’s name.
“Vivek needs to just shut the hell up and go home,” Brazile said on the show.
“It’s Vivek,” Maher responded, correcting her pronunciation, to which she replied, “Well, whatever” before continuing to mispronounce his name.
“Whatever?” Maher shot back. “Would you say that about another ethnic—”
The ex-DNC chair then responded with the correct pronunciation of the tech entrepreneur’s name before thanking Maher for learning something new and repeating her initial comment, “Vivek? Vivek needs to go home.”
While Maher agreed, he suggested that there is “a little racism there” when people refuse to learn how to pronounce the candidate’s name correctly.
Backlash: The clip has since gone viral on X, with many criticizing Brazile for perpetuating harmful stereotypes and fostering anti-immigrant sentiment.
The Asian American Foundation (TAAF) noted the responsibility of public figures in using their platforms and emphasized that AAPI names should not be treated as punchlines.
“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. AAPI names are not punchlines & we expect public figures to use their platforms responsibly,” the foundation stated.
“To add to this, this type of rhetoric historically has contributed to a culture where violence against our community members becomes more acceptable. Do better folks. It doesn’t matter who says it. It’s wrong and dangerous,” added Andy Kang, the national director of anti-hate at TAAF.
Ramaswamy’s response: Ramaswamy, who was born in the U.S. to Indian parents, responded to the incident in a tweet, writing, “I wonder what they’d do if a white Republican intentionally mispronounced Donna’s name & then told her to return ‘home.’”
A spokesperson for Ramaswamy’s campaign also criticized Brazile’s comments, stating that “reverse racism is still racism.”
“If that were a white Republican they would be fired and torn to shreds on cable TV. Donna will probably get an ‘atta boy from her colleagues. Gross and wrong,” the spokesperson told The Hill.
Brazile has not commented on the issue.
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