Emil Guillermo: In New Hampshire, Nikki Haley is the racism denier

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Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said this week that
“America is not a racist country.”

And then Donald Trump proved her wrong by calling Haley by her Indian name--Nimarata Nikki Randhawa Haley— just to rile up the scores of racists in Trump’s Republican MAGA base.

Only Trump put an even finer point on it all, purposefully referring to Haley in his social media posts as “Nikki Nimrada Haley.”

Makes it all the more “slurrier.”

By the way, “nimrod” is a biblical reference to a mighty man or hunter (Genesis 10: 8-12). But it’s also slang for idiot or jerk.

Which do you suppose Trump intended?

Welcome to the third-grade mentality of the New Hampshire Republican Primary, the first primary in the nation.

If you thought that Trump was so dominant after the Iowa Caucuses that he would cruise in New Hampshire, the opposite is the case. When the going gets tough, the tough go racist, and Trump is using racism in so many ways to separate voters from aligning with Haley.

Trump’s message is that Haley is “the other” and not like “us.” It’s political racism 101.

Trump starts with the racist name mangling but gets more insidious when he puts out disinformation that Haley’s immigrant parents disqualify Haley to be president.


Haley, whose birthday is the Saturday before the New Hampshire primary, was born Jan. 20, 1972 in Bamberg, South Carolina. It was the first state to secede from the Union, but was part of the United States when she was born. Maybe MAGA-types spreading rumors about Haley will apologize for their ignorance by singing her a chorus of “Happy Birthday.”

The truth is, by virtue of the 14th Amendment, any person born on American soil is entitled to claim U.S. citizenship by birthright.

Asian American history mavens will note the law was solidified in the Wong Kim Ark case, where a Chinese American born in San Francisco, but who then visited China as an adult, was barred from returning.Wong Kim Ark sued for re-entry and won a Supreme Court decision that has been the law since March 28, 1898. (See my columns here: and

Unfortunately, too many MAGA types fall for the racist logic of Trump and spread the disinformation.

Of course, Trump has used the birther approach to attack opponents before, as he did when spreading lies about Barack Obama being born in Africa and not on American soil. Obama was, of course, born in Hawaii, the 50th state in the nation.

But Trump uses racism because it works emotionally on voters, far better than comparing stances on say, immigration policy.

And that’s why in many ways, Trump’s racism is perfectly lodged against Haley because she believes in so many of the racist immigration policies that Trump embraces.

Haley is against sanctuary cities. She’s pro-deportation of the undocumented. She believes “illegals” are the cause of crime. All of it. It’s rhetoric that’s indistinguishable from Trump.

But Trump knows that beyond policy, the most important thing among aggrieved Republican voters in the MAGA cult is he’s white and she’s not. That’s his opening to keep all his voters in line.

Since Haley can’t afford to lose a single GOP voter, she doesn’t fight back. Especially not on the racism part.

You know her type from your work life. Haley is the careerist, who thinks she’s there based on merit. Racism? She’s overcome it, if it were ever a real problem. Haley stays positive and repeats her mantra, “I got here on my own. America is a great country. It’s the content of my character, not the color of my skin.”

It’s fine to be so positive, but then along comes Trump to dump on her character and see only the color of her skin.

Haley just smiles like she did on the CNN Town Hall this week, saying she knows Trump and that he lies.

That’s as hard as she attacks, calling Trump a liar. She doesn't even get to "pants on fire."

But she especially won’t say he’s a racist because she needs all the racist votes from Trump she can get. It makes Haley worse than an election denier. She’s a racism denier.

So when she said America not a racist country this week in New Hampshire, it was no surprise, really.

During the Iowa caucuses, she already omitted slavery as a cause of the civil war.

But to say that racism is not in the institutional DNA of the U.S.–from slave- holding founding fathers to the stripping of land from Native Americans–is so disingenuous. A moral person couldn’t do it with a straight face. Haley does it with a passion.

The truth is America has always tilted toward the preservation and protection of white supremacy. And it’s especially true with Asians in America. From the Chinese exclusion, to the exclusion of other Asian groups, including Asian Indians in 1917 in the west, to the racist quotas installed in the 1924 Immigration Act, the racism toward Asians in America is so real. It’s such a big part of America.

It wasn’t until 1965 when the racist quotas were lifted through the Hart-Cellar Act that Asians were allowed to trickle in.

Haley may say that Trump lies, but what is Haley doing in failing to acknowledge the racism past and present in America? Especially toward Asians?

Trump gave her an opening to be her true authentic self. But it only revealed Haley the political animal, who it appears is not much better for a diverse 2024 America than Trump himself.

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NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on