Reminiscent of how Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has used claims of Native American heritage to give herself a boost with voters, incoming congresswoman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has often promoted herself as just a “girl from the Bronx” to garner favor from the common man.
But now some conservative commentators are accusing her of outrighting lying in order to perpetuate a myth about her heritage.
It all started when Ocasio-Cortez reposted a photo she had posted earlier of her official plaque in D.C., this time with a caption that read: “🎶 Don’t be fooled by the plaques that we got, I’m still / I’m still Alex from the Bronx 🎶”
The 29-year-old appeared to be fearful that such an official-looking plaque with the name “New York” on it would hurt her image of being “down with the people.” Conservative actor and commentator Michael Knowles called her out on it.
“The average household wealth of the town in which you grew up is $1.2 million,” he wrote on Twitter, exaggeratingly referencing the “ritzy Yorktown Heights” she spent a lot of time growing up in after her first few years of life in the Bronx.
Ocasio-Cortez didn’t appreciate that and shot back, “Yep. As everyone knows, I grew up between two worlds + experienced 1st hand how a child’s zip code can shape their destiny. It was scrubbing those households’ toilets w/ my mother that I saw and breathed income inequality. I decided to make a difference. You decide to do this.”
To that, Knowles replied, “You didn’t grow up b/w 2 worlds. You grew up in Westchester then lied abt it then changed your bio when the lie was exposed. I grew up in the (⬇️affluent ⬆️diverse) neighboring town, spent many wknds in the Bronx. The difference: I don’t lie abt my upbringing to feign victimhood.”
In reply to someone else defending the congresswoman, he also wrote, “Right, but @Ocasio2018 didn’t grow up in a city. She grew up in a small, homogenous, affluent suburb, where she attended excellent schools before pretending she grew up in the Bronx.”
Ocasio-Cortez then threw the gender card at him, writing, “In which a Republican literally tries to mansplaining *my own childhood* and life to me. And in true mansplaining form, he’s doing it wrong with an great degree of confidence. It begs the question: is the GOP really ‘sending us their best?’ 🤔”
Another conservative commentator, John Cardillo, defended Knowles, telling Ocasio-Cortez that “every word he wrote is accurate. You grew up in an affluent Westchester suburb, not the Bronx. You flat out lied. I spent more time on the streets of the south Bronx than you, so please slow your roll Congresswoman.”
Ocasio-Cortez responded, “You’re the dude whose immediate reaction to winning my primary was posting a photo of my mom’s house. Going to public school in Yorktown has *always* been how I told the story of income inequality. You didn’t even know who I was 7 months ago. You’re not gonna ‘birther’ me now.”
She also said, “Lastly, to all these corny Republicans trying to take the Bronx away from me: where on earth do you think these clapback Twitter hands came from?? Only one place 🙅🏽♀️🙅🏽♀️🙅🏽♀️”
Last month, Ocasio-Cortez spoke to a Jewish group and claimed deep ancestral ties to them. It raised more than a few eyebrows.
“A very, very long time ago, generations and generations ago, my family consisted of Sephardic Jews. During the Spanish Inquisition, so many people were forced to convert on the exterior to Catholicism but on the interior continued to practice their faith [Judaism],” she told the audience. “So many of our destinies are tied beyond our understanding.”
Sensing the need to defend her claim of Jewish ancestry, she wrote on Twitter, “Before everyone jumps one [sic] me — yes, culture isn’t DNA. But to be Puerto Rican is to be the descendant of: African Moors + slaves, Taino Indians, Spanish colonizers, Jewish refugees, and likely others. We are all of these things and something else all at once — we are Boricua.”
Then she started sounding like Warren again as she spoke about her “ancestors” and stories,” writing, “Just because one concrete identity may not be how we think of ourselves today, nor how we were raised, it doesn’t mean we cannot or should not honor the ancestors + stories that got us here. I was raised Catholic, & that identity is an amalgam too — especially in Latin America.”
Have Ocasio-Cortez’ identity politics gone awry?