Joe Biden Challenged A Muslim Journalist For Pronouncing 'Afghanistan' Correctly

Amna Nawaz, an award-winning correspondent for PBS, is the first Muslim American to ever moderate a presidential debate.

Former Vice President Joe Biden questioned a Muslim American debate moderator over her correct pronunciation of “Afghanistan” during Thursday evening’s Democratic primary debate in Los Angeles.

Amna Nawaz, a PBS correspondent, asked Biden about recent Washington Post reporting showing that U.S. officials misled the public about how badly the war in Afghanistan was going. The candidate, who’s currently a front-runner in the contest for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, interjected mid-question.

“Afghanistan, you said?” Biden asked, using the common American pronunciation.

“Yes, sir. Afghanistan,” Nawaz responded, sticking to her pronunciation.

Nawaz is the first Muslim American to moderate a presidential debate. (And the first Pakistani American as well.)

Once Nawaz confirmed she said what he thought she did, Biden went into an answer about his track record of opposing increased U.S. military intervention there.

Political commentator and podcaster Tommy Vietor, who served with Biden in the Obama administration, noted that he “broke hard from Obama on Afghanistan. “It’s true that he opposed the 2009 surge and was skeptical of the Pentagon’s hard sell about [counter-insurgency] strategy,” Vietor wrote on Twitter.

Biden has similarly diverged from former President Barack Obama’s approach to taking responsibility for approving U.S. support for a bloody Saudi-led campaign in Yemen.

The candidate’s answer won him plaudits from commentators. His reaction to an accurate pronunciation by a person of color isn’t likely to go down quite as well.

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