CBS News anchor Margaret Brennan grilled U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield over remarks she’s made about slavery, using false talking points from right-wingers like The Wall Street Journal and OAN.
During an extensive interview on this week’s Face The Nation, Brennan pressed Amb. Thomas-Greenfield over a speech in which she said “The original sin of slavery weaved white supremacy into our founding documents and principles.”
“You talked about white supremacy being linked to the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, continued discrimination against Muslims and Asian-Americans,” Brennan said. “America likes to think it provides moral leadership to the world. Are you saying we’re deluding ourselves?”
The ambassador replied, in part, “No, I think we’re being tremendous leaders, our country is not perfect, but we continue to perfect it. Those imperfections are part of our history and we have to talk about them.”
Thomas-Greenfield also told Brennan that “The fact that I came from a segregated high school and I’m now the permanent representative of the United States at the United Nations says everything about what our country is about,” and that “I look forward to continuing to engage with other countries, to use our example, to show those other countries what they might achieve.”
“But it is precisely because of the role you have as a cabinet member, that it drew so much criticism,” Brennan pressed, adding that “the Wall Street Journal editorial board called you the ‘Ambassador of Blame America First,’ saying, ‘It sounded like you were reciting Chinese propaganda about America and that you believe your job is to bring critical race theory to the world with a focus on criticizing your own country.’”
“To be clear, were you comparing bigotry in America to mass atrocities carried out against minorities around the world?” Brennan asked.
Amb. Thomas-Greenfield responded, at length, that she was not:
I was acknowledging what is a fact in the United States. Racism does exist in this country and I think it was a powerful message. Imagine any other country doing that. Our country, the uniqueness of our country, is that we can self-criticize and we can move forward and our values are clear. And the purpose of that speech was to lay out our values, but also acknowledge our imperfections and acknowledge that we are moving forward. I don’t think you will see a Uyghur – a Chinese Uyghur getting on the national stage — acknowledging China’s issues with human rights.
I am not comparing our situation. I am acknowledging that we’ve come a long way and I’m very proud of what we have been able to achieve. But I’m realistic about what we have to do moving forward. And I think if we are going to be a voice around the globe for raising issues of human rights, we cannot whitewash our own issues in our own country.
The premise of Brennan’s questions is based on a false right-wing narrative — also promoted at a White House briefing last week by OAN’s Emerald Robinson in an attempt to agitate for Greenfield-Thomas’ firing — that the ambassador was “parroting Chinese Communist party talking points” when she delivered the speech in question. In fact, the opposite is true.
Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield delivered a similar line during a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in March, in which she said that slavery “weaved white supremacy and black inferiority into our founding documents and principles,”
It was a Chinese diplomat who referenced Thomas-Greenfield when they responded to U.S. human rights condemnations by saying that she “in an exceptional case, admitted to her country’s ignoble human rights record, but that does not give the country license to get on the high horse and tell other countries what to do.”
Watch the exchange above via CBS News.