Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has never been what you might call a fan of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, so it's not altogether surprising that he's taken aim at her re-election campaign. Huckabee's most recent tweet about Pelosi, however, has led many on social media to cry foul and accuse the former governor of racism, fear-mongering, and dehumanization.
"Nancy Pelosi introduces her campaign committee for the take back of the House," Huckabee tweeted Saturday alongside a photo of five tattooed Hispanic men making what appears to be gang signs with their hands. According to The Hill, the photo Huckabee tweeted is one that "has typically been used online to depict gang members."
The tweet appears to be a thinly-veiled attempt to paint Pelosi as a friend or a fan of MS-13 gang members in light of the divisive immigration debate currently unfolding in Washington. Huckabee has previously used the transnational gang known as MS-13 to advocate for stricter border control, calling them "a brutal Mexican gang" that comes "across the U.S. border," The Hill has reported.
But many on Twitter found Huckabee's tweet to be in poor taste, and accused the former Arkansas governor of being racist. "Mike Huckabee might be horrible at jokes, but you have to admit, he's PHENOMENAL at racism," Sleeping Giants, an organization that aims to "make bigotry and sexism less profitable" tweeted in response to Huckabee's tweet.
At least one Twitter user called out Huckabee for using the photo to imply that a vote for Pelosi would supposedly be a vote for violent gang members. "Mike Huckabee sharing the tried and true get out the vote message of 'Democrats support scary-looking POC,'" CNN's Andrew Kaczynski tweeted.
Others likened Huckabee's attempt to scare voters away from Pelosi with images of people of color to the ways Jews were represented in Nazi media messages. "I know we're cautioned to go easy on the Nazi parallels, but this is too clear an example," New Yorker writer Adam Davidson tweeted. "This is no different from a Nazi-era cartoon of criminal Jews. Huckabee should be ostracized and ashamed."
A few other Twitter users accused the former governor of dehumanizing minorities with his tweet. "Mike Huckabee is leading our country down the same road Leon Mugesera traveled when he called the Tutsis 'cockroaches' during the Rawandan genocide," Dr. Eugene Gu wrote in a tweet Saturday. "Or when Slobodan Milosevic called ethnic Albanians a 'wild tribe' with 'cruel instincts.' We cannot dehumanize an entire people."
Greg Sargent, who writes for the Washington Post's The Plum Line blog, claimed on Twitter that while dehumanization was "a Trump speciality," Huckabee's latest tweet was evidence that the former governor had "perfected it in a single tweet."
Some Twitter users also claimed they'd reported Huckabee's tweet to Twitter for being racist and inciting hate. "I reported this Tweet to @twitter because it clearly is designed to stoke hatred of a group," Davidson wrote in a later tweet Saturday. "And, no, he is not limiting his hatred-stoking to actual MS13 members, he clearly wants all Hispanic immigrants to be seen as criminal."
"Hey @twitter why is this racist, huckabee tweet still up?," another Twitter user asked.
This isn't the first time Republicans have attempted to link Democrats with MS-13. President Donald Trump has repeatedly attempted to incite a fear of immigrants by claiming they are "criminals" or "animals" in an attempt to garner support for his strict immigration policies.
But not everyone was critical of Huckabee's tweet. The former governor's tweeted attack on Pelosi was retweeted by Donald Trump Jr., Trump's oldest son.