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AOC attacked as fraud for fake accent in viral video

By Ben Marquis
|
April 13, 2023

Some politicians have a tendency to alter their accent or manner of speaking when addressing certain audiences and, more often than not, it comes across as being fake and inauthentic.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) was recently called out again for a memorable instance in 2019 when she clearly spoke with an atypical accent while addressing a predominately black crowd of listeners, Fox News reported.

The viral video compared a clip of the congresswoman speaking in her normal voice about former President Donald Trump with a clip of her using an affectation of a southern drawl during a speech at Al Sharpton's National Action Network.

Ocasio-Cortez's altered accent

The "End Wokeness" Twitter account posted on Tuesday a 30-second video that has already been viewed more than 5.5 million times that was captioned: "AOC is a total fraud. This is her accent before and after."

In the first part of the video, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said in her normal manner of speaking, "When Donald Trump tapped into this idea of Make America Great Again, there was times of economic opportunity. Wages rose until the 1970s."

The video then transitioned to her 2019 speech at Sharpton's organization, during which she said in an altered and drawling accent, "I'm proud to be a bartender. Ain't nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with working retail, folding clothes for other people to buy. There is nothing wrong with preparing the food that your neighbors will eat."

From articulate politician to southern black preacher

The impetus for that viral video of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's false accent appears to be a similar comparative video shared by the "End Wokeness" account of Democratic Tennessee State Rep. Justin Pearson, who was expelled from the state legislature for joining a disruptive anti-Second Amendment protest on the floor of the legislature.

The video first featured Pearson in 2016 speaking in a clear and articulate manner about finding common-ground solutions with others who hold different ideological beliefs, but then transitioned to recent remarks following his expulsion in which he spoke like a southern black preacher in the style of the Revs. Martin Luther King Jr. or Jesse Jackson.

Linguistics practice known as code-switching

With regard to the viral video of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez changing her mode of speech, Fox News noted that she was broadly mocked and called out for being fake and inauthentic and for pandering to a predominately black audience. The congresswoman did have some defenders, however, and not just from her devoted base of progressive supporters.

One of those was Japan-based researcher and NK News editor Oliver Jia, who tweeted, "I'm no AOC fan but this is petty nonsense to be making a case about. Politicians from both parties change the cadence of their voice all the time depending on the audience. It's also common for people from certain backgrounds to code switch depending on who they're with."

Jia raised a valid point in noting that many politicians routinely engage in "code-switching," a linguistics term for altering one's speech from "one language or dialect to that of another."

Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden infamously code-switched

One example would be then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's 2007 speech at a predominately black church in Selma, Alabama, in which she quoted a civil rights activist and said with a thick southern drawl, "I don't feel no ways tired."

Another prime example would be then-Vice President Joe Biden during the 2012 election when he told a predominately black audience during a rally that GOP nominee Mitt Romney wanted to "Unchain Wall Street -- he's gonna put y'all back in chains."

For what it is worth, when Ocasio-Cortez was first criticized for her code-switching following the 2019 speech, she tweeted in her own defense, "As much as the right wants to distort & deflect, I am from the Bronx. I act & talk like it, *especially* when I’m fired up and especially when I’m home. It is so hurtful to see how every aspect of my life is weaponized against me, yet somehow asserted as false at the same time."