Donald Trump Jr shares and then deletes tweet questioning Kamala Harris’s blackness

Conspiracy theories circulate online after former prosecutor dominates Democratic debate

Zamira Rahim
Sunday 30 June 2019 00:29
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Kamala Harris responds to 'low blow' Joe Biden criticism

Donald Trump Jr, the US president’s eldest son, retweeted and deleted a post on Thursday which falsely claimed that Kamala Harris is not “an American black”.

Ms Harris is black and of Indian and Jamaican descent, but right-wing conspiracy accounts were quick to spread false information about her lineage and citizenship online.

The California senator’s race was a particular target online during Thursday’s Democratic primary debate.

“Kamala Harris is *not* an American Black. She is half Indian and half Jamaican,” claimed a social media user with the name Ali Alexander.

His tweet was re-tweeted on Thursday by Donald Trump Jr, according to The New York Times.

The US president’s eldest son has 3.64m followers on Twitter.

“Is this true?” Mr Trump Jr said. “Wow.”

He later deleted the post, but the misinformation had spread widely by the time the tweet was removed.

“Don’s tweet was simply him asking if it was true that Kamala Harris was half-Indian because it’s not something he had ever heard before,” a spokesperson told The New York Times.

“Once he saw that folks were misconstruing the intent of his tweet, he quickly deleted it.”

Conspiracy theories questioning Ms Harris’ ethnicity spread online as the Democratic primary hopeful addressed race and politics during Thursday’s debate.

“Growing up, my sister and I had to deal with the neighbour who told us her parents couldn’t play with us...because we were black,” the California senator said.

She also accused Joe Biden, the former US vice president, of being previously opposed to “busing”, a policy which helped to integrate public schools in the US.

Busing began in the 1970s and involved white and black students taking buses to attend schools far from where they lived in order to desegregate them.

Mr Biden denies having been opposed to the policy.

“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day,” Ms Harris said.

“And that little girl was me.”

Her debate performance won praise and attention but right-wing figures were quick to try and downplay Ms Harris’ identification as “black”.

Several attempted to use Ms Harris’ Indian descent against her.

“Kamala Harris would be the first Asian president,” said Jack Posobiec, a notorious alt-right figure, on Saturday.

Mr Posobiec is famed for promoting wholly erroneous conspiracy theories.

He is best known for the Pizzagate conspiracy, which falsely alleged a Washington pizzeria was the home of a child sex abuse ring that included people such as Hilary Clinton and her then campaign chief John Podesta.

The baseless allegations led to a man firing a gun at the pizza joint in 2016.

Ms Harris has previously linked the right-wing discussion about her race to that faced by Barack Obama.

“This is the same thing they did to Barack, this is not new to us,” she said in February 2019, in an interview broadcast by CNN.

Mr Obama, who was born in Hawaii, famously faced alt-right theories that falsely claimed he was not born in the US and was therefore not eligible to be president.

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The so-called “birtherism” movement was championed by Donald Trump, who succeeded Mr Obama as president in 2017.

“Powerful voices trying to sow hate and division among us,” Ms Harris said in the February interview. “And so we need to recognise when we’re being played.”

Ms Harris, a former prosecutor, is one of a number of high profile Democrats seeking to become the party’s 2020 presidential candidate.

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