Sen. Lindsey Graham, S.C., on Tuesday said his comments about the possibility of having Iranian ancestry being “terrible,” was a joke meant for the Ayatollah, not the Iranian people.
During an earlier appearance on 'Fox & Friends,' Graham was talking about genetic testing and said: “I’ll probably be Iranian. That would be, like, terrible.”
The topic of DNA ancestry had been brought up due to a recent controversy surrounding Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who on Monday released the results of her DNA test to prove she had Native American heritage.
Graham’s off-the-cuff remark drew widespread criticism. In a statement, National Iranian American Council President Jamal Abdi accused Graham of bigotry.
“If you dread the notion of Iranian ancestry and believe all Iranians are liars, you are hopelessly bigoted and unfit to serve in the U.S. Senate where votes affect tens of millions of Iranians and millions more of Iranian ancestry in the diaspora,” Abdi said.
[I]f you know anything about me, you’re an Iranian dissident, I’m on your side.
Appearing on ‘Fox News @ Night,’ Graham attempted to clarify that his comments were meant to be a joke about the prospect of being related to the Ayatollah and insisted he has nothing but respect for the Iranian people, calling them “brave” and “cultured.”
“Well if you know anything about me, name one person who’s been a bigger defender of the Iranian people to fight back against their oppressor,” he said.
Graham criticized his liberal colleagues of hypocrisy, alluding to a nuclear deal that was negotiated by former President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry with Iran and the European Union, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany in June 2015.
“To my liberal friends who are offended by my statement, (at) least I didn’t vote for an agreement that gave $150 billion to the man who kills Iranians in the street because they’re demanding freedom and a fair election,” Graham said.
He said he has “nothing but contempt for the Ayatollah and his murderous regime.”
“[I]f you know anything about me, you’re an Iranian dissident, I’m on your side,” Graham said.