Ingraham, who once said she was learning Spanish for her Guatemalan daughter, asked conservative lawyer Joe diGenova during a segment on her show, Ingraham Angle, whether he had noticed that Ocasio-Cortez "put on" an accent when introducing herself.
"She does the Latina thing where she does her, you know, 'Anastasio Ocasio-Cortez,'” diGenova replied, exaggerating his accent in a mocking way and purposely botching Ocasio-Cortez's first name. The former U.S. attorney then used an exaggerated Italian pronunciation for his own name.
Mocking the congresswoman over how she correctly pronounces her given name is an odd thing to do, until you consider how threatening it can sound to people who fear the shifting demographics in the U.S. After all, Spanish is currently the second most common language in the country. (Spanish was also spoken in what we know today as the United States long before English was even introduced to the region.) This fear has created a rise in "Speak English, this is America" incidents despite studies showing that nearly 80% of those who speak a so-called "foreign" language at home are also proficient in English.
In a series of tweets Wednesday evening, Ocasio-Cortez fired back at Ingraham and her guest. "If by ‘the Latina thing,’ she means I actually do the work instead of just talk about it, then yeah, I’m doing 'the Latina thing,'" she wrote. "Unless of course she's talking about being multilingual, which we know isn’t a ‘Latina thing.’ It’s a ‘21st century’ thing."
Ocasio-Cortez then took Fox News to task for incorrectly referring to her as "Cortez" instead of her full surnames. "My last name is Ocasio-Cortez. Full stop. That’s my name," she wrote. The congresswoman explained that in Latinx culture, it's common for children to go by both their parents' surnames. While she's right that this practice is the standard in Puerto Rico, where her mother was born, she mistakenly said that in the island people automatically hyphenate the names. More often than not, people just go by both surnames with no issue. But when moving stateside, Puerto Ricans and other Latinxs hyphenate the names to avoid confusion, since in American culture something like her "Ocasio" could be confused for a middle name instead of her father's surname. (This is what I did.)
By the way: Fox News likes to say my name (incorrectly) as “Cortez,” which I can only imagine is bc that sounds more ‘stereotypically’ Hispanic + probably incites more ‘anxiety’ for them.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 21, 2019
My last name is not “Cortez,” just as theirs isn’t “Ingra” or “Carl” or “Hann.”
Ocasio-Cortez has replaced fellow boogeywomen Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the main El Cuco of conservatives. The obsession over her every move has reached a fever pitch in recent months: See here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for conspiracy theories about her socioeconomic status to superficial criticism over her dancing and inability to smile. Painting Ocasio-Cortez as the "Wicked Witch of the right" has been fun for conservatives, despite its real-life consequences such as leading the congresswoman to be a target in a foiled domestic terror attack.
It's clear that Ocasio-Cortez lives rent-free in Ingraham's mind. The host should probably have better standards than mocking someone's accent given her own daughter's ethnicity, but what can you expect of the person who even made fun of a school shooting survivor?