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Republicans slam new Twitter CEO for 2010 tweet defending Muslims

They are outraged that Parag Agrawal shared a quote from ‘The Daily Show’ in 2010 that lampooned anti-Muslim bigotry.

By Josh Israel - November 29, 2021
Parag Agrawal

Hours after he was named the new CEO of Twitter, Republicans are attacking Parag Agrawal over an 11-year-old tweet in which he quoted actor and comedian Aasif Mandvi mocking racism and Islamophobia.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey announced Monday that he was immediately stepping down from his position as the company’s CEO and that Agrawal, its chief technology officer, would immediately replace him.

The right-wing site Breitbart on Monday morning posted a tweet Agrawal had shared in October 2010 and asserted that he had “uncritically repeated a quote in 2010 suggesting that there should be no need to ‘distinguish between white people and racists.'” The story claimed it was “unclear who he was quoting.”

Soon after, Colorado Rep. Ken Buck quoted Agrawal’s tweet, writing, “This is the new CEO of Twitter. How can users trust him to treat everyone equally?”

Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee joined in Monday afternoon, asserting, “This is Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s new CEO and the person who’s going to be deciding what kind of speech is allowed on Twitter.”

Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson suggested that the company’s white staff might all quit over the quote. “Wow! Who knew corporate wokeness would tolerate open bigotry. I’m pretty sure Twitter has white employees, white customers, and white suppliers – for now at least.”

GOP Ohio Senate hopeful J.D. Vance mocked Agrawal for having “some…interesting views.”

On Oct. 26, 2010, Agrawal had tweeted, in quotation marks, “If they are not gonna make a distinction between muslims and extremists, then why should I distinguish between white people and racists.”

A few minutes later, Agrawal responded to a comment on the tweet with, “I was quoting Asif [sic] Mandvi from The Daily Show,” and said, “I am amused by people that pass judgement on people for passing judgement. I was attempting to do the same to amuse myself. :)”

The “Daily Show” segment from which the Mandvi line was taken was aired in response to comments made days earlier by political analyst Juan Williams, who had appeared on Fox News and answered a question from host Bill O’Reilly about Muslim blame for terrorist attacks on 9/11 with, “Look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”

Williams was terminated from his longtime position as an NPR contributor over the remarks, but was kept on as a Fox News analyst.

CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski tracked down and posted the video of Mandvi’s original bit from “The Daily Show” in which, wearing a “Team Muslim” shirt, he quips, “If they’re not gonna make a distinction between Muslims and violent extremists, then why should I take the time to distinguish between decent, fearful white people and racists?”

Larry Wilmore, a fellow member of the “Daily Show” cast, wears a “Team Black” T-shirt in the segment and jokes that he’s conflicted because, “on the one hand, I’m a Black man, but sometimes I am afraid of people in Muslim garb on a plane. Of course, also as a Black man, I’m afraid of snakes on a plane,” a reference to the 2006 movie starring Samuel L. Jackson.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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