Washington, DC – Appearing on Fox & Friends on Tuesday, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made offensive comments when he joked that if he took a DNA test, it would probably show that he was “Iranian” and “that’d be, like, terrible.”
The suggestion that being “Iranian” is “terrible” is deeply offensive to the Iranian American community and the Iranian people. Senator Graham’s statement stigmatizes Iranian Americans and is contrary to the administrations’ stated interests of supporting the Iranian people and their democratic aspirations.
In an environment where 77% of Iranian Americans report fear of increased discrimination, this kind of rhetoric that normalizes prejudice is utterly reckless. Iranian Americans are active participants in and contributors to all levels of U.S. society, holding positions in the military, law enforcement, and government. They are especially prominent in the fields of science, technology, medicine, finance, law, and business. They should be celebrated for their contributions rather than unjustly derided for their national and ethnic origin.
“Senator Graham’s comments are disrespectful and further discriminate against the Iranian American community. A U.S. Senator making such derogatory comments about any community or ethnic group is completely unacceptable,” said Dr. Leila Austin, Executive Director of the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans. “Senator Graham should issue an apology and make clear that his remarks do not reflect his attitude toward people of Iranian descent.”