White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was caught off guard by a reporter who put her on the spot over the Biden administration’s travel ban on several African countries, a measure that despite its racial overtones, has received virtually no criticism from the press.
During Thursday’s daily press briefing, Simon Ateba of Today News Africa sought to get a straight answer from the president’s top flack, pressing Psaki over the restrictions on the predominantly black nations, measures that would have resulted in former President Donald J. Trump being accused of racism.
Ateba has been determined to get Psaki on record over the bans which were imposed as a result of the Omicron variant, the latest COVID strain which was initially discovered in South Africa and despite being previously shut down, his tenacity was on full display, much to the dismay of the condescending snark queen who was unable to resist giving him the floor.
With Psaki’s dodging by dismissively calling on another reporter in order to avoid him, Ateba was relentless, forcing her to acknowledge him and he took full advantage of the opportunity.
Ateba began, “The Omicron variant is now in 57 countries, the WHO issued a statement today and said that Africa has 46 percent of the nearly 1,000 cases globally. But 70, almost 70 countries in the world have imposed travel ban on only Black African nations.”
“And the U.S. is among the countries that have imposed sanctions on only eight African nations, when the virus — when the variant is in 57 countries,” he continued. “Why don’t you just lift it or impose sanctions on all the countries that have it? What would you say to those who believe that this is a racist ban that targets only African and Black African nations?”
Psaki denied that racism is a factor in the selective banning of the African countries, “Simon, I would convey to you that is absolutely not the intention. That is not our policy. This was a recommendation of the health and medical experts because there were a large number of cases in South Africa and they made a decision early on, out of an abundance of caution and to protect the American people, to slow the spread of the variant.”
She added, “This is not meant to be permanent. It’s not meant to be a punishment. And we are evaluating every single day decisions on whether to — when to lift these restrictions.”
During last Thursday’s presser, Ateba was rudely shut down by Psaki when he had attempted to get an answer on the travel bans with her scolding him not to “scream over” his colleagues after he suggested that the administration was not being truthful.
Ateba is also active on Twitter in regard to Biden’s “racist’ bans, citing remarks from infectious diseases expert Dr. Michael Osterholm that the African bans are “counterproductive” in a Sunday tweet that shows that he isn’t going to be deterred by the likes of Psaki.
Biden's travel ban on African nations over Omicron variant 'counterproductive', says Michael Osterholm, one of America's most distinguished infectious disease experts who warned 800,000 people could die of COVID-19 in the U.S. https://t.co/dXtkPxg1w5 via @simonateba pic.twitter.com/q2B6r5QyVg
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) December 12, 2021
The hypocrisy is stunning over the disparity of treatment given to Biden versus that of Trump with the latest example being the complete absence of outrage over the blatantly discriminatory travel ban that disproportionately affects people of color.
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