What happens after you crash and burn alongside the Trump administration? You head over to one of the many money-making right-wing propaganda outlets to sell your wares. Former Trump campaign adviser and insufferable douchebag Steve Cortes has done just that and found a home at Newsmax. Here’s a short biography of Steve Cortes: He’s the guy that said Donald Trump needed to be a bit more of a fascist.” 

Newsmax must have seen his appearances on media outlets where he embarrassed himself, his family, and anyone who ever gave him a job and thought, “Sign him up!” The network gave Cortes and Jenn Pellegrino a show creatively titled Cortes and Pellegrino, where this dynamic duo rehashes old slogans for racists, like “Critical Race Theory leads to death camps,” and “discussing white supremacy is the same as attacking Jews in Nazi Germany.” 

On Wednesday’s Cortes and Pellegrino, the Newsmax host decided to offer up the other side of the Catch-22 that conservatives have offered President Biden: Sure, it looks like you are now doing a good job of evacuating the people we have screamed about for over a week, but … maybe … you shouldn’t have?

Cortes gave a long speech about why the United States should not accept any male Afghan refugees. “Do we owe a moral obligation to Afghan nationals? Yes, to some who took great risks for our operations there, I really think we do. But they should stay in the region. We have bases all over the Middle East and we have regional allies with populations that share a culture and a faith with these Afghanis.”

But why wouldn’t Cortes be okay with bringing Afghan refugees onto American soil? Long story short: because they’re mostly rapists. That, according to Cortes, is just the way it is. That summary is not hyperbole.

Cortes proceeded to say this:

STEVE CORTES: Now, we should learn from the disastrous experience Europe had with Afghani [sic] men and systemic sex crimes against women. Just a few weeks ago, a thirteen-year-old girl was raped and murdered in Austria and three Afghani [sic] migrants have been charged with that heinous crime. And because of that crime, Austrian Chancellor Kurz, he made it clear just this past weekend that Austria will not accept any Afghan refugees. Statistics show, as I detail in my new op-ed, that that terrible case in Austria, it is hardly isolated. And it’s not just an outlier, it’s the worst example but it’s not an outlier.

BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 19: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Armin Laschet, Premier of North-Rhine Westphalia (not pictured), speak to the media before talks at the state representation of North Rhine-Westphalia on March 19, 2021 in Berlin, Germany. Kurz and Laschet are meeting on the second day of Kurz's visit to Germany.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Sebastian Kurz: What me worry about being a racist?

Let’s talk about this. The Austrian Chancellor he speaks of is scandal-swamped Sebastian Kurz. Surprising no one, Cortes’s hero here is mired in corruption investigations that have predictably revealed some of the depth of the racism and fascist xenophobia we have come to expect from the globe’s white-wing conservatives. Austria has accepted a large number of refugees over the past few years, and it is the racism and the “they’re all rapists and criminals” trope that Kurz, like Trump, has ridden into office on. 

But let’s be clear: Steve Cortes is going to hit all of the xenophobic tropes that press conservative viewers’ Fear and Anger buttons.

STEVE CORTES: Police numbers show the relatively small Afghan population there in Austria commits an astonishing half of all sexual assaults in that country. According to the Hoover Institution at Stanford, according to their research, once the giant wave of Afghan migration to Austria began in 2015, total sexual assaults there grew by a staggering 53% over the next four years. As The Wall Street Journal reported, next door in Germany, foreign-born residents right now account for one-third of all sex crime suspects.

Those are some serious accusations concerning data. Not unlike other similar sweeping generalizations, the “numbers” Cortes sites are incomplete at best. Spiegel investigated the same claims that Cortes is parroting, a couple of years ago and found that the assertions made by websites that proclaim to collect this data are not true. They peddle in the hysteria of the fear of “foreign-born rapists” while doing very little to verify the superficial reports that they claim prove their points. And, depending on where you get your data, you can also argue that, at the peak of what was termed the “European migrant crisis” in 2015, rapes in Austria retreated back downward as opposed to upward

Violence against women in Austria is high, but as experts across the country have said, conservative Muslims are a small part of the problem, as there are larger societal misogynies at work—like conservative Catholicism, and a rise in sexist rhetoric—thanks to the right-wing movements that support people like Sebastian Kurz.

But none of this matters to Cortes, who goes on to drive it home old-school racist style, saying, “Now, given these realities in Europe, is the mass migration of Afghan men to America really a good idea? Good for your wife, your daughter?”

Barf. And if this was not enough to get you to sell your old gold and put it under your MyPillow, Cortes pulls out another oldie, saying that Muslims in Afghanistan want Sharia law and are coming to not only rape your white women but also to change your legal system. He cites Pew Research in 2013, asking Muslims living in their native, non-U.S. countries whether they wanted Sharia law where they lived at the time.  

And while a deeper dive into that Pew Research would show you that the Afghan Muslims polled didn’t all agree on every aspect of Sharia law, Cortes and his Republican Party say Biden isn’t getting enough people out of Afghanistan—while also saying he’s getting too many people out of Afghanistan.

Cortes asks: “Will these Afghans share our values, will they try to assimilate into the American way of life? It’s not likely.” I guess Cortes must really believe Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld should be prosecuted for war crimes then? I mean, even Steve Cortes knows those people will never want the freedoms America will grant them, like, I don’t know, having the right to die instead of wearing a mask into a Walmart to buy Tic Tacs.


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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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