Sometimes a politician says or does something so brazenly gross that you have to do a double take to make sure it really happened. Take, for instance, this tweet from Lauren Witzke, a GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate from Delaware. Witzke defeated the party's endorsed candidate to win the primary, has been photographed in a QAnon t-shirt, supports the conspiracy theory that 9/11 was a U.S. government inside operation, and has called herself a flat earther.
So that's neat.
Witzke has also proposed a 10-year total halt on immigration to the U.S., which is absurd on its face, but makes sense when you see what she believes about immigrants. In a tweet this week, Witzke wrote, "Most third-world migrants can not assimilate into civil societies. Prove me wrong."
Most third-world migrants can not assimilate into civil societies. Prove me wrong.— Lauren Witzke (@Lauren Witzke) 1602085382.0
First, let's talk about how "civil societies" and developing nations are not different things, and to imply that they are is racist, xenophobic, and wrong. Not to mention, it has never been a thing to refer people using terms like "third-world." That's a somewhat outdated term for developing nations, and it was never an adjective to describe people from those nations even when it was in use.
Next, let's see how Twitter thwapped Lauren Witzke straight into the 21st century by proving her wrong in the most delicious way. Not only did people share how they or their relatives and friends have successfully "assimilated," but many showed that they went way, way beyond that.
Some shared their academic credentials, which is not the only sign of assimilating well, but is certainly a well-respected one. Here's a sampling:
@EcoMigrante @LaurenWitzkeDE I’m from Venezuela, Engineer with Masters. I speak 3 languages. It took my daughter 6… https://t.co/TmmUXRx6xh— IDavidM (@IDavidM) 1602244659.0
@LaurenWitzkeDE My family watches football/basketball, eats hamburgers/pizza and enjoys good beers. Our English is… https://t.co/MtuzHCKHdg— Pé (@Pé) 1602352422.0
@LaurenWitzkeDE 1. Third World immigrant here. Citizen since 1995, BS in Computer Science, 25 years of professional… https://t.co/N0I0VehmS1— Trump was briefed on Nov, Dec and January. (@Trump was briefed on Nov, Dec and January.) 1602335769.0
One of people's favorite responses came from Viet Thanh Nguyen, who arrived in the U.S. as a baby with his refugee parents. He won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his novel "The Sympathizer" in 2016.
@LaurenWitzkeDE Donate to her opponent!@ChrisCoons https://t.co/p33TB7F4pR— viet thanh nguyen (@viet thanh nguyen) 1602309985.0
One person pointed out that the iPhone Witzke used to send her tweet was created by the son of a Syrian immigrant. (The father of Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, was a political refugee from Syria.)
@LaurenWitzkeDE You are tweeting your anti-immigrant bigotry on a phone created by the son Syrian immigrant. Will t… https://t.co/QxQq6tNoSz— Don Moynihan (@Don Moynihan) 1602300262.0
Another shared a report that immigrants outperform American-born citizens in key measures of financial success.
@LaurenWitzkeDE Ok. https://t.co/ZMbmQ1ozH4— Alejandra (@Alejandra) 1602192289.0
Others flipped the assertion around on Witzke, pointing out that her tweet proves she herself isn't functioning well in civil society. And she's not alone.
@TomSchommer @LaurenWitzkeDE Donald Trump was apparently born in America and can't assimilate and function as a dec… https://t.co/JNh3NvO9wm— Sally Wynn (@Sally Wynn) 1602346099.0
Others flipped the idea of a "third world" country altogether, pointing out that the U.S. is not exactly a bastion of civil society these days. (Fact check: Gun violence here is not worse than *any* developing nation, but it is worse than many of them.
But perhaps the most comprehensive response, which also happens to be one of the shortest, is this one:
@LaurenWitzkeDE This COUNTRY proves you wrong.— Lee in Iowa #TeamPelosi (@Lee in Iowa #TeamPelosi) 1602276924.0
This country does prove her wrong. The U.S. has long been a nation that welcomes immigrants from all over the world, and many of us see that fact as one of our greatest strengths. Immigrants have started some of our most successful businesses, enriched our communities with restaurants and shops that give us a taste of another part of the world, and helped fuel some of our most innovative ideas and products. The primary thing that makes "assimilation" difficult for immigrants, no matter where they come from, is hostile attitudes toward them. All Ms. Witzke's tweet does is make it harder for migrants to do what she's saying they can't do. You can't make it make sense.
The bottom line is there's no place for this kind of racist, classist, xenophobic rhetoric in civil society. Bigotry needs to be rejected at every turn, including—perhaps especially—at the ballot box.
@LaurenWitzkeDE There is so much racism embedded in your language and your question it’s hard to know where to star… https://t.co/HvGXYDFY1Z— Monica Maalouf, MD (@Monica Maalouf, MD) 1602342635.0
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