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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.
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Kathy Barnette, a Trumpist conspiracy-peddling Republican candidate in the Pennsylvania Senate race who has been rising through the ranks, speeding even past big-spending rivals, is facing waves of criticism and public backlash for her past anti-Muslim tweets.
On Sunday, in an interview with Fox News Sunday host Shannon Bream, after bobbing and weaving on questions probing her military service, Barnette tried to downplay the gravity of Islamophobic tweets that she had penned.
“If you love freedom, Islam must NOT be allowed to thrive under any condition,” Barnette declared in a 2014 tweet. However, her anti-Muslim rant didn’t end there. Her later tweets would hone in on an even bigger target: former President Barack Obama.
"Obama is a Muslim. Doing Muslim like THINGS!" Barnette tweeted in 2016, pushing false claims about the former president’s faith. Referencing the Iran nuclear deal, Barnette targeted Obama, a devout Christian, again later that year in another tweet. "Obama would NEVER lie or evade the American people. He's a Muslim, errrr, American."
When Bream pressed Barnette about the anti-Islam tweets, the GOP Senate candidate took a leaf from the GOP playbook and blamed others for her actions. She lobbed the blame for her social media rant on Obama and Syrians fleeing the civil war in their country.
"Let me just say in almost all of those tweets...especially when you look at the timeframe we were living in, at that particular time, we had the Obama administration bringing in a lot of Syrian refugees at that time,” Barnette told Bream.
Barnette also tried to pass off the resurfacing of her old tweets as a political attack that showed how desperate her opponents are.
“I can’t provide a lot of context because, again, it’s almost ten years ago. That’s how far they have to go back to find anything on me,” she said.
The media was also to blame, according to Barnette. “I have not embellished on my record,” she said. “I have been running this race now for about 13 months, and if you listen to the mainstream media, you would think I crawled from under a rock yesterday.”
In 2020, after losing her first run at Congress by an eye-popping 19 percentage points, Barnette became a willing mouthpiece for former President Trump’s bogus claims of widespread voter fraud, particularly in the votes that were cast by mail.
"I even secured more votes than the president, showing that my American message had a crossover effect," she fumed after her stinging loss to the Democratic Incumbent, Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA).
"I have no idea how we as Americans have allowed the greatest nation to become the equivalent of having elections as the equivalent of Afghanistan with progressive liberals looking a whole lot like the Taliban,” Barnette had added.
After an unsuccessful blame-game attempt, Barnette distanced herself from her past tweets, which she called “incomplete thoughts.”
“At that time, I was hosting a show called ‘Truth Exchange’ and I would have all kinds of ideas and was leaning in to helping the public begin to have those conversations, and so those were some of the — that’s the context around a lot of those tweets,” Barnette said during the Fox interview.
“The overwhelming majority of the tweets that are now being presented are not even full thoughts. They’re not even full sentences and yet people take it and they begin to build their own narrative around it,” she added.
Trump has assailed Barnette, calling her unvetted and unelectable, according to the New York Times. “Kathy Barnette will never be able to win the general election against the radical left Democrats,” Trump said in a statement.