In an attempt to criticize President Barack Obama, Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, instead offended Native Americans by connecting them with jihadists during a speech Tuesday when he announced his candidacy for president.
During his speech in Hope, Arkansas, Huckabee, who is formerly a Southern Baptist pastor, excoriated Obama for comments he made during the annual National Prayer Breakfast in February when, in reference to Islamic terrorism, he reminded his fellow Christians that they, too, have committed horrendous acts in the name of Christianity throughout the annals of human history.
“And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ,” Obama said.
On Tuesday, Huckabee told a raucous crowd of supporters that he wonders who Obama cheers for when watching 1950s western cinema.
“When I hear our current president say he wants Christians to get off their high horse so we can make nice with radical jihadists, I wonder if he can watch a western from the ‘50s and be able to figure out who the good guys and the bad guys really are,” Huckabee said.
In a statement sent to ICTMN, Eric Walker, spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, called Huckabee’s comment a “cheap joke” and said Native Americans deserve not to be compared to jihadists.
“Mike Huckabee has spent his entire career offending Americans of all stripes – African Americans, Jews, Mormons, LGBT Americans to name a few – and now with these recent comments, he can add Native Americans to this growing list,” he said. “Native Americans have a proud heritage, and deserve better than to be compared to jihadists as part of a GOP candidate’s cheap joke. Sadly, this is what people have come to expect from GOP candidates who constantly push policies and views that are harmful to Americans. Mike Huckabee’s offensive, outdated, and divisive social views have no place in the 21st century.”
Huckabee is the latest in a growing chorus of Republican candidates vying for the presidency, but not the first to fall into disrepute with Native Americans.
Senator Rand Paul, who announced his bid in April, called for the abolishment of the Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA] when he first took office in 2011 and has not commented whether he would eliminate the BIA should he become the 45th president in 2016.
Watch Mike Huckabee’s full speech. He connects Native Americans with jihadists starting at min. 14:45:
Simon Moya-Smith is Culture Editor of ICTMN. Follow him @simonmoyasmith.