Democrats rally to defend US senator from 'ugly' far-right attacks

Ms Kamala Harris, who is of Indian and Jamaican descent, drew national attention after a rock-solid performance at a Democratic Party debate.
Ms Kamala Harris, who is of Indian and Jamaican descent, drew national attention after a rock-solid performance at a Democratic Party debate.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Democrats vying to become the party's candidate in 2020 presidential elections have rallied behind US Senator Kamala Harris against social media claims she is not an "American Black".

Ms Harris, who is of Indian and Jamaican descent, drew national attention after a rock-solid performance in Thursday's (June 27) Democratic Party debate that shot her into the top tier of contenders.

The senator was attacked online by social media users, some of them known for being far-right.

One Twitter account with 90,000 followers, under the name Ali Alexander, sent a tweet on Thursday that read: "Kamala Harris is implying she is descended from American Black Slaves. She's not. She comes from Jamaican Slave Owners. That's fine. She's not an American Black. Period."

The US President's son, Mr Donald Trump Jr, retweeted the message, then deleted it.

Former vice-president Joe Biden slammed the attack on Ms Harris and said it has parallels with the "birtherism" movement that has questioned the citizenship of former US president Barack Obama.

"It's disgusting and we have to call it out when we see it. Racism has no place in America," he added in a tweet.

 
 
 

So-called "birthers" claim Mr Obama was born overseas and allege his birth certificate is a fake. The US Constitution says the country's presidency is open to natural-born citizens only.

Mr Biden's comments were supported by other Democrats running to become the party's presidential candidate.

Ms Elizabeth Warren labelled the attacks on Ms Harris "racist and ugly", as Mr Bernie Sanders and Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, among others, also gave support to the senator.

In Thursday's debate, Ms Harris boldly confronted Mr Biden on race and identity and called out his "hurtful" comments in praise of segregationist senators with whom he worked but disagreed.

Ms Harris, 54, is the only black woman in the Democratic presidential field. She is a former prosecutor and one-time attorney general for California.

If elected, she would become the first woman - and first black woman - president of the United States.