Tlaib Has Promoted Four Viral Racial Hoaxes in 2019

Has not corrected comments on debunked stories

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (Getty Images)
October 2, 2019

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) has promoted at least four racially charged hoaxes or debunked stories on Twitter in 2019 and failed to issue statements retracting or correcting her comments.

The most recent example: the case of Amari Allen, a black 12-year-old girl in Virginia who claimed three white boys in her class pinned her down and cut off her dreadlocks. Allen has since recanted the story, but Tlaib has not issued a correction or deleted her tweet praising Allen as "courageous & strong" and having a "power that threatens their core."

The activist Tlaib retweeted apologized for spreading the story after Allen recanted her charge, but Tlaib didn't share the apology or offer her own contrition.

This has been part of a pattern for the outspoken, far-left congresswoman. On at least three other occasions in 2019, Tlaib uncritically shared racially charged, viral stories that fell apart or were strongly challenged upon deeper scrutiny.

Tlaib was among numerous progressive politicians and pundits who rushed to judgment about the Covington Catholic incident in January at the Lincoln Memorial. Initial videos and media reports made it seem as though Trump-supporting high schoolers had mocked and harassed a Native American man peacefully beating a drum, but further investigation revealed severe inaccuracies in those assumptions.

"This is so hard to watch," Tlaib tweeted, linking to one of the early videos. "It reminds us of the growing hate & oppression we are all up against."

Tlaib shared a GQ article on Jan. 30 initially headlined, "The Racist, Homophobic Attack on Jussie Smollett Is Far-Right America's Endgame," the day after the Empire actor claimed masked Donald Trump supporters attacked him in Chicago, hurled racial and homophobic epithets, and put a noose around his neck.

"America's choice to embrace the blind rage of late-stage whiteness in decline is an explicit longing for this kind of crime," Joshua Rivera wrote in the GQ piece.

Tlaib added in her tweet: "The dangerous lies spewing from the right wing is killing & hurting our people. Thinking of you @JussieSmollett, and my LGBTQ neighbors."

Smollett's story began to come apart as local police and reporters examined the unlikely details of his claims.

Chicago police arrested Smollett for disorderly conduct three weeks after his initial story, saying he paid two men by check to "attack" him as part of a scheme to raise his salary. Police superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett's false accusation was "shameful" and hurt the city's reputation. Prosecutors later dropped the charges against Smollett in a controversial move that infuriated Johnson and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel.

GQ updated the story after Smollett's arrest, expressing regret for hastily blaming "far-right America" and not labeling the piece as opinion. Smollett maintains he told the truth.

Yet Tlaib wasn't done seizing on stories with neat narratives of racial discord.

When a black Georgia Democratic lawmaker claimed in July that a white man told her at an Atlanta grocery store to "go back" where she came from, Tlaib tweeted at her, "You are loved. You are loved. You are loved. You are loved."

State representative Erica Thomas (D.) said in a tearful Facebook Live video that she feared for her life during the incident. Her claim the man told her to "go back" drew national attention in the aftermath of some Trump supporters directing chants of "send her back" at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.). Omar and Tlaib are the first Muslim women in Congress.

This story also began to collapse soon after going viral. Thomas backtracked almost immediately, telling reporters the next day she couldn't be sure the man used the "go back" language as she initially claimed.

The man, Eric Sparkes, confronted her in front of cameras the next day and said he was of Cuban descent and held progressive political views. He admitted to cursing at her for checking out with too many items in the express lane, but he said her racially charged claim was untrue.

Although Thomas claimed Sparkes was "going to jail" for what he did, a witness told police it was Thomas who told Sparkes to go back where he came from. Security footage also didn't back up Thomas's claim of Sparkes acting physically aggressive, and no charges were filed.

Tlaib didn't delete any of her tweets in these four instances, and the Washington Free Beacon could find no record of her posting follow-ups giving a clearer picture of the stories. Her office didn't respond to a request for comment.

For a first-term lawmaker, the Michigan representative has gotten considerable attention, particularly after calling Trump a "motherf–er" upon taking office and promising Democrats would impeach him. Israel banned her and Omar from visiting due to their support for the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and she received criticism for making historically inaccurate remarks about Palestinians protecting Jews during the Holocaust.

She accused Vicki Porter, a conservative witness in front of the House Oversight Committee, of being a "conspiracy theorist" while she testified last week. Tlaib grew agitated because Porter winked at a Republican on the committee who was a friend of hers.