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April 19th, 2024

Reality Check

Michigan GOP pol atacked for saying Gaza should be approached 'like Nagasaki and Hiroshima' --- but viral video shows he's being mischaracterized

Maegan Vazquez

By Maegan Vazquez The Washington Post

Published April 1, 2024

Michigan GOP pol atacked for saying Gaza should be approached 'like Nagasaki and Hiroshima' --- but viral video shows he's  being mischaracterized

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A Republican member of Congress appeared to suggest that nuclear weapons should be dropped on Gaza, according to a video from a town hall circulating on social media, but his office maintains that he was speaking metaphorically "to show urgency to defeat these enemies swiftly."

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) was answering a question from a constituent during a town hall in Dundee, Mich.,last week, about the United States' plan to build a floating pier off the coast of Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid.

"Why are we spending our money to build a port for them?" someone asks in the video.

Walberg, who is not seen in the video, responds by saying that the United States "shouldn't be spending a dime on humanitarian aid" and then references the two Japanese cities where the United States dropped atomic bombs during World War II.

"It should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Get it over quick," Walberg said.

In a statement, the congressman's office contended that Walberg "clearly uses a metaphor to support Israel's swift elimination of Hamas, which is the best chance to save lives long-term and the only hope at achieving a permanent peace in the region."

According to audio of Walberg's response, provided to The Washington Post by Walberg's office, after the congressman said "Get it over quick," he added, "The same should be in Ukraine."

"Defeat [Russian President Vladimir] Putin quick," Walberg continued. "Instead [of] 80 percent in Ukraine being used for humanitarian purposes, it should be 80 to 100 percent to wipe out Russia - if that's what we want to do."

Michigan has one of the nation's largest Arab American and Muslim populations, with about 300,000 people who claim ancestry from the Middle East or North Africa, and the United States' approach to the war has become a major political issue for 2024.

The lawmaker's comments have drawn criticism from Democrats in the state.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich), wrote on X that Walberg's comments were "a reprehensible thing for anyone to suggest, especially an elected official and someone who considers himself a man of faith."

"Rep. Walberg should take back his comments, and try to put himself in the shoes of the many Michiganders who see themselves in the casualties in Gaza," Slotkin, who is running for Senate, added. Rep. Daniel Kildee (D-Mich.) on X called Walberg's remarks "horrific & shocking."

"It is an indefensible position to argue against humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza while also calling for the wholesale massacre of the Palestinian people. I couldn't disagree more with these extreme & dangerous comments," he continued.

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