Long gone are the days when former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee ran for president on a nice-guy platform. Now he’s become a partisan attack dog who, as he demonstrated on Saturday, has no problems with appealing to racism and bigotry to blast the opposition. Huckabee raised online outrage after he tweeted a picture of five tattooed Hispanic men who appear to be flashing MS-13 gang hand signals. “Nancy Pelosi introduces her campaign committee for the take back of the House,” Huckabee wrote.
MS-13 is a gang that is present in the United States as well as Mexico and much of Central America. Politicians often refer to the gang to rile up fears of illegal immigrants. Huckabee’s tweet came days after the House minority leader denied that Republicans are trying to work with Democrat on a bipartisan immigration bill. “It’s not a compromise. It may be a compromise with the devil, but it’s not a compromise with the Democrats in terms of what they have in their bill,” Pelosi said.
Huckabee’s tweet also came a day after President Donald Trump held a press conference with parents whose children were killed by undocumented immigrants. During the event, Trump drew a connection between families being separated at the border and those who must live without their loved ones. “These are the American citizens permanently separated from their loved ones,” Trump said. “The world permanently being the word that you have to think about. Permanently. They’re not separated a day, two days. Permanently. They were killed by illegal aliens. These are the families that the media ignores.”
Many immediately criticized Huckabee for his tweet, with some, including journalist Soledad O’Brien, simply calling Huckabee a bigot.
Others drew a contrast with the man Huckabee pretended to be when he was running for president. “The Mike Huckabee I covered during the 2008 campaign would have roundly condemned this,” Jeff Greenfield wrote.
The New Yorker’s Adam Davidson said that this was one time when a Nazi comparison seems particularly apt. “This is no different from a Nazi-era cartoon of criminal Jews,” Davidson wrote. “Huckabee should be ostracized and ashamed.” Davidson later said he reported the tweet “because it clearly is designed to stoke hatred of a group.” Davidson went on to note that Huckabee “is not limiting his hatred-stoking to actual MS13 members, he clearly wants all Hispanic immigrants to be seen as criminal.”
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent responded to the tweet by reposting an explanation on “how this sort of dehumanization works.” Even though “it’s a Trump specialty,” the former governor “perfected it in a single tweet.”