Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says Trump's Threat Against Iran Cultural Sites Is 'An Extension of White Supremacy'

Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has likened President Donald Trump's Iran strategy to white supremacy, and said his conduct speaks to the wider problem of how American leaders think and talk about foreign wars.

At a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in New York on Monday, Ocasio-Cortez argued that most Americans have little interest in foreign wars but are instead being dragged into successive conflicts by a "powerful and concentrated class" that controls the political sphere.

"I've been thinking a lot about when Trump tweeted that he was going to target cultural sites in Iran," Ocasio-Cortez said. This represents an "extension of white supremacy in that the goal of all of this is to erase history and to erase our understanding," the New York representative added.

Trump came under fire at home and abroad earlier this month after threatening to launch airstrikes against 52 targets in Iran, including some of cultural significance. International experts have argued this would constitute a war crime, as would the "disproportionate" military response the president promised in the case of Iranian provocation.

At the time, Ocasio-Cortez condemned the president on Twitter. She said that targeting cultural sites—and thus threatening to kill innocent families, women and children—"does not make you a 'tough guy.' It does not make you 'strategic.'' It makes you a monster."

On Monday, 30-year-old Ocasio-Cortez suggested that most Americans have no interest in wading into further foreign wars, noting that the country has been engaged in conflict in the Middle East for most of her life.

"I don't believe our whole nation's priority is to slaughter people in other parts of the world," she said.

"I think it is the priority of a powerful and concentrated class in the United States that happens to have a grip of control over our government."

Nonetheless, she argued that Americans must acknowledge some "complicity" in allowing such wars to go ahead. Too often, Ocasio-Cortez said, war is thought about as "something that is over there."

"We always have to center American lives over human lives, we don't think about the quarter-million innocent Iraqi civilians that died in the Iraq War. We don't talk about that," she added.

"We don't talk about the actual people who experience violence. And it is almost portrayed in media and in culture as people who didn't have a society anyway, as though they are people that were just kind of out in the desert somewhere."

"But these are people who are living ordinary lives, who went to the grocery store just like us, and bombs are quite literally being dropped on them," Ocasio-Cortez said. "And that is not the reality of war that we see."

Rather, that "powerful and concentrated class"—assisted by the media—have learned to hide what war means from American voters, Ocasio-Cortez argued.

"Our media and our government learned that with Vietnam, that you don't televise our actions abroad. Because if we knew what we were financing and bankrolling, we would overturn it."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Donald Trump, Iran, white supremacy
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is pictured during a Green New Deal For Public Housing Town Hall event on December 14, 2019 in New York City. Yana Paskova/Getty Images/Getty