Biden Spokesperson Jen Psaki Defends Statement ‘Indians Taking Over’ U.S
President Joe Biden speaks as he gives a primetime address to the nation from the East Room of the White House March 11, 2021 in Washington, DC. President Biden gave the address to mark the one-year anniversary of the shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
NEW YORK – President Joe Biden’s spokesperson has defended his assertion that Indian Americans are “taking over the country” against criticism that it could play into the hands of racists.
Jen Psaki said Mar. 11: “The president was just recognizing and honoring and valuing – or this was his intention – the incredible contribution of Indian Americans to science.”
Asked by a reporter at her briefing in Washington about the criticism, she said that what he had said “was a reflection of his belief that Indian Americans have made a great contribution to the fabric of society, whether it’s science or education or the government and that was what he was trying to convey.”
Biden had told Swati Mohan, the NASA engineer who guided the Mars rover Perseverance to a soft landing on the Red Planet, during a virtual meeting last week, “It’s amazing. Indian of descent Americans are taking over this country. You, my Vice President, my speechwriter Vinay (Reddy). But I tell you what, thanks. You guys are incredible.”
For context, while Biden’s statement is taken as a compliment in India and by many Indians, in the ethnic cauldron of the U.S. such comments are viewed with caution as they could lead to a backlash against Indian Americans, who are a minority.
Criticizing Biden, the rightwing publication RedState said that if former President Donald Trump had made such a statement about Indian Americans he would have been denounced as “racist.”
RedState said, “Show me one sane person who believes an unknown group of Indian Americans are immediately going to assume control of the federal government, or is stupid enough to believe Indian Americans are the majority of America.”
Trying to introduce context, Psaki said, “He was speaking to an Indian American woman who is, of course, a scientist and an important part of the NASA team.”
She added, “And he also was, of course, recognizing the incredible contribution of his own Vice President, Kamala Harris.”