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Native Americans account for just under two percent of the population in the United States, and much of that lowered number is due in great part to colonialism. Rick Santorum seemingly thinks that Native Americans brought nothing to this nation after speaking at an event, and Don Lemon tore into Santorum’s comments that European settlers “birthed a nation from nothing.”
Santorum, a Republican Party former U.S. Senator for Pennsylvania, spoke recently at a Young America’s Foundation, a conservative group aimed towards young people. During the talk, Santorum praised the resiliency of his ancestors in coming to America because they wanted to practice their religious freedoms and made an audacious claim that Native Americans had no culture or any real foundational roots in the land those ancestors would claim for their own taking.
“We birthed a nation from nothing; I mean, there’s nothing here. I mean, yes, we have Native Americans but candidly, there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture,” Santorum said at the Young American’s Foundation meeting.
Santorum, who frequently appears on CNN as a paid pundit, was challenged by network host Chris Cuomo about his comments as reported by Mediaite.
“This seemed like you were trying to erase diversity in the interest of some White Christian right,” Cuomo said to his CNN colleague. Santorum tried to weasel his way out of owning the statement saying that he misspoke and gave a rather evasive answer as to why he made the statement but it didn’t add up.
Don Lemon’s program was set to air after Cuomo’s slot concluded and in typical fashion, the hosts share a bit of banter before passing the baton. Lemon was especially angered by Santorum’s initial words and his paper-thin non-apology as well.
“I cannot believe the first words out of his mouth weren’t, ‘I’m sorry. I said something ignorant. I need to learn about the history of this country.’ No contrition…didn’t talk about, you know, the suffering that Native Americans have had to deal with in this country,” Lemon said to Cuomo. “Rick Santorum, really? Did he actually think it was a good idea for him to come on television and try to whitewash the whitewash that he whitewashed?”
The moments in question can be seen below, and keep scrolling for reactions from Twitter.