Graham: It would be 'like, terrible' if a DNA test found I was Iranian
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study Biden aide: Ability to collect daily intel in Afghanistan 'will diminish' Leaving Afghanistan: Is it victory or defeat? MORE (R-S.C.) on Tuesday joked that it would be “terrible” if he was found to have Iranian heritage.

Graham, appearing on "Fox & Friends," made the remark while commenting on the results of a DNA test released publicly by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWorld passes 3 million coronavirus deaths Poll: 56 percent say wealth tax is part of solution to inequality Democratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents MORE (D-Mass.) on Monday. 


Warren revealed the test's results to prove her prior claims of Native American ancestry. According to the DNA test, she could be anywhere from 1/32nd to 1/1,024th Native American.

Fox host Steve Doocy suggested the South Carolina Republican return to the show later with his own genetic analysis.

"We'll find out who you really are," Fox's Brian Kilmeade said.

"I'll probably be Iranian. That'd be, like, terrible," Graham responded jokingly.

"They have great people, just bad leaders," Kilmeade said in an apparent effort to clarify Graham’s remarks. 

Graham responded: “Yeah, bad leaders. I’m not in the ayatollah branch,” he said, apparently referring to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The Republican senator’s remark prompted swift outrage online.

Actress Yara Shahidi called Graham’s remarks a “sickening display of racism and bigotry.”

"Both of my parents migrated to the U.S. from Iran, along with much of my family. What's wrong with having a Persian ancestry?" CNN host Oliver Darcy said. "This comment from Graham — and the casual way in which he delivers it and then laughs — is really off-putting."

“How terrible to have ancestors who belonged to one of the greatest civilizations in world history,” MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said on Twitter. “Good God, Lindsey. Read a book.”

Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council, also issued a statement in response to what he called "racist" remarks by made by the senator.

“It is absolutely disgusting for Senator Graham to state on Fox and Friends that it would be ‘terrible’ to discover that he had Iranian ancestry from a DNA test," he said in the statement. “This is not the first time that Graham has made bigoted remarks about Iranians. In 2015, he said ‘I know Iranians are liars’ based on his experience in his dad’s pool hall.”

“If you dread the notion of Iranian ancestry and believe all Iranians are liars, you are hopelessly bigoted and unfit to serve in the U.S. Senate where votes affect tens of millions of Iranians and millions more of Iranian ancestry in the diaspora," he continued.

“Graham must apologize for his remarks in 2015 and recant his atrocious attempt at a joke on Fox and Friends this morning,” the statement continued. “The Iranian-American community will not forget such casual racism, nor will it forget which party has enacted policy on the basis of such racism by banning our family members from Iran.”

Kevin Bishop, a spokesman for Graham, specifically called out Abdi’s criticism of the Republican senator’s remarks in a statement to The Hill.

“This isn’t the first time this group has sought to mislead people about Senator Graham’s words and meaning when it comes to Iran,” Bishop said. “It’s pretty clear to anyone who follows this issue that Senator Graham has great respect for the Iranian people. It’s why he has called for the overthrow of the tyrannical Iranian regime in an effort to ‘Make Iran Great Again.’” 

“Senator Graham loathes the murderous Iranian regime which continues to suppress and intimidate the Iranian people,” Bishop added. “The sooner the Iranian regime is consigned to the ash heap of history, the better.”

-Updated 4 p.m.