PELLA, Iowa — Vivek Ramaswamy, the multi-millionaire biotech investor targeting the Republican presidential nomination, has called Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), prominent author Ibram X. Kendi and other progressive anti-racists “great wizards.” of the modern KKK.”
The comments came after a question about Ramaswamy on Friday afternoon from an Iowa resident, who asked Ramaswamy at a campaign rally whether he was likely to be accused by liberals of being a “white supremacist” or some sort of “white neighbor” racial traitor.
Ramaswamy responded with a lengthy comment on how he sees contemporary progressives, who insist that he should hold liberal views because of his non-white identity, as the greatest sources of racial discrimination in contemporary American culture.
As examples, he gave two statements from Pressley and Kendi, both of whom are black.
“We don’t need anymore brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice,” Pressley said at the liberal Netroots Nation conference in 2019. “We don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice.”
Ramaswamy also noted that in his bestseller How To Be An Anti-Racist, Kendi wrote: “The only remedy for past discrimination is present discrimination.” The only remedy for present discrimination is future discrimination.” (Ramaswamy quoted these two the preceding sentence: “The only remedy against racial discrimination is anti-racial discrimination.”)
In particular, Pressley’s pronouncements strip nonwhite people of their agency as individuals and treat them as monoliths based on their identity, much like the Ku Klux Klan used to do, Ramaswamy argued.
“The greatest racism I have ever experienced – and I have experienced racism – comes from the modern left on an unimaginable scale,” said the GOP candidate, who is the son of Indian immigrants. “Because I think they feel a sense of betrayal when they say, ‘You’re not speaking in the tone that you should.'”
“So the other side will piss you off if you say something like, ‘Oh, you’re making that up,'” Ramaswamy added, noting that he was citing specific quotes. “These are the words of the modern day Grand Wizards of the modern KKK.”
Besieged by reporters after the event, Ramaswamy stuck to the gist of his statements, but adjusted them to avoid comparing contemporary progressives to KKK leaders per se. Instead, he said, Pressley, Kendi and the “entire movement” they are associated with would make the KKK “proud”.
“The fact that we’re taught to see one another based on our genetic traits would make the ancient wizards of the great Ku Klux Klan proud,” Ramaswamy said. “I think there’s no better way to disempower someone in this country as a kid than to say you’re stuck because of your innate genetics.”
“I’d say for the last few years, probably the last decade, it’s come from the left. And I think it says a lot about the decay of our culture,” he added. “Of people like the modern evangelists of this modern religion, the old generation of the great KKK wizards would certainly be very proud in a way, in a way.”
HuffPost has reached out to Pressley and Kendi’s representatives for comment, but has not received an immediate response.
Ramaswamy has spoken out against racial preference programs aimed at correcting past racism, such as affirmative action, a core theme of his campaign. To that end, the list of ten “truths” he recites at each campaign halt includes the idea that “reverse racism is racism.”