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Nikki Haley invokes her Indian roots, says America is not racist

By Lalit K Jha
Last updated on: August 25, 2020 11:30 IST
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Describing herself as a proud daughter of Indian immigrants who wore a turban and a saree, top Indian-American politician Nikki Haley has narrated her story to strongly reject the Democratic Party's "fashionable" statement that "America is racist."

IMAGE: Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at the 2020 Republican National Convention from the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Haley said, “In much of the Democratic Party, it's now fashionable to say that America is racist. That is a lie. America is not a racist country."

“This is personal for me. I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants. They came to America and settled in a small southern town. My father wore a turban. My mother wore a sari. I was a brown girl in a black and white world,” she said on Monday at the mostly virtual four-day convention.

Making a passionate plea to re-elect Republican Donald Trump, Haley said that the United States President has a "record of strength and success", while his Democratic rival Joe Biden has a "record of weakness and failure."

Haley, who was the former US Ambassador to the United Nations, on the first day of the Republican National Convention warned Americans that a Biden-(Kamala) Harris administration would lead the country on the path of socialism, which has failed everywhere in the world.

Indian-origin US Senator from California Kamala Harris is the running mate of Biden.

Harris is the first Indian-American to be nominated for the second highest political office in the country.

This is probably for the first time that Haley criticised Harris after she was picked by Biden early this month as the vice presidential candidate.

“This President has a record of strength and success. The former Vice President has a record of weakness and failure. Joe Biden is good for Iran and ISIS… great for Communist China... and he's a godsend to everyone who wants America to apologise, abstain, and abandon our values. Donald Trump takes a different approach. He's tough on China, and he took on ISIS and won. And he tells the world what it needs to hear,” Haley said.

Political pundits say that Haley, 48, is herself a presidential candidate for the 2024 elections.

 

She has, however, refrained from commenting on this and said that her focus now is to help Trump get re-elect as the president of the country.

The Republican Party and the Trump Campaign opted for her speech on the prime time of the first day of the convention.

The four-day RNC will formally nominate 74-year-old incumbent President Donald Trump as the party's candidate for the November 3 US presidential election.

Haley, the two-term Governor of South Carolina, is the only Indian-American leader to be featured in the list of RNC speakers released by the Trump campaign on Sunday.

Haley said her family faced discrimination and hardship but her parents never gave in to grievance and hate.

"My mom built a successful business. My dad taught 30 years at a historically Black college. And the people of South Carolina chose me as their first minority and first female governor,” Haley said.

“America is a story that's a work in progress. Now is the time to build on that progress, and make America even freer, fairer, and better for everyone. That's why it's tragic to see so much of the Democratic Party turn a blind eye toward riots and rage,” she said.

She said the American people know they can do better.

"And of course we know that every single black life is valuable. The black cops who've been shot in the line of duty -- they matter. The black small business owners who've watched their life's work go up in flames -- they matter," she said.

"The black kids who've been gunned down on the playground -- their lives matter too. And their lives are being ruined and stolen by the violence on our streets,” she said.

She said things were not like this five years back.

“It doesn't have to be like this. It wasn't like this in South Carolina five years ago. Our state came face-to-face with evil. A white supremacist walked into Mother Emanuel Church during Bible Study," she said, referring to the 2015 Charleston church shooting, in which nine African Americans were killed.

"Twelve African Americans pulled up a chair and prayed with him for an hour. Then he began to shoot,” she said.

“After that horrific tragedy, we didn't turn against each other. We came together -- black and white, Democrat and Republican. Together, we made the hard choices needed to heal and removed a divisive symbol, peacefully and respectfully," she added.

What happened then should give us hope now, Haley said.

"America isn't perfect. But the principles we hold dear are perfect. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that even on our worst day, we are blessed to live in America,” Haley said.

“It's time to keep that blessing alive for the next generation. This President, and this Party, are committed to that noble task. We seek a nation that rises together, not falls apart in anarchy and anger. We know that the only way to overcome America's challenges is to embrace America's strengths,” she said.

“A Biden-Harris administration would be much, much worse. Last time, Joe's boss was Obama… this time, it would be Pelosi, Sanders, and the Squad. Their vision for America is socialism. And we know that socialism has failed everywhere.

"They want to tell Americans how to live… and what to think. They want a government takeover of health care. They want to ban fracking and kill millions of jobs. They want massive tax hikes on working families,” Haley said.

“Joe Biden and the socialist left would be a disaster for our economy. But President Trump is leading a new era of opportunity. Before Communist China gave us the coronavirus, we were breaking economic records left and right. The pandemic has set us back, but not for long. President Trump brought our economy back before, and he will bring it back again,” she said.

Haley said that it was an honour of a lifetime to serve as the United States ambassador to the United Nations.

“Now, the UN is not for the faint of heart. It's a place where dictators-murderers-&-thieves denounce America… and then put their hands out and demand that we pay their bills,” she said.

"President Trump put an end to all that. With his leadership, we did what Barack Obama and Joe Biden refused to do. We stood up for America… and we stood against our enemies,” she said.

“Obama and Biden let North Korea threaten America. President Trump rejected that weakness, and we passed the toughest sanctions on North Korea in history. Obama and Biden let Iran get away with murder and literally sent them a plane full of cash. President Trump did the right thing and ripped up the Iran nuclear deal,” Haley said.

“Obama and Biden led the United Nations to denounce our friend and ally, Israel. President Trump moved our embassy to Jerusalem -- and when the UN tried to condemn us, I was proud to cast the American veto,” she said.

“At home, the President is the clear choice on jobs and the economy. He's moved America forward, while Joe Biden held America back. When Joe was VP, I was governor of the great state of South Carolina. We had a pretty good run.

"Manufacturers of all kinds flocked to our state from overseas, creating tens of thousands of American jobs. People were referring to South Carolina as “the beast of the southeast,” which I loved,” she said.

“Everything we did happened in spite of Joe Biden and his old boss. We cut taxes. They raised them. We slashed red tape. They piled on more mandates. And when we brought in good-paying jobs, Biden and Obama sued us. I fought back… and they gave up,” she said.

Earlier, Haley started her remarks with a little story from a US Ambassador to the UN during the Regan era.

“l'll start with a little story. It's about an American Ambassador to the United Nations. And it's about a speech she gave to this convention. She called for the re-election of the Republican President she served… And she called out his Democratic opponent… a former vice president from a failed administration,” Haley said.

“That ambassador said, and I quote, “Democrats always blame America first.” The year was 1984. The president was Ronald Reagan. And Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick's words are just as true today,” she said.

“Joe Biden and the Democrats are still blaming America first. Donald Trump has always put America first. He has earned four more years as President,” Haley said.

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Lalit K Jha
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