AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller is facing criticism following a post on his Facebook page that compares Syrian refugees to rattlesnakes.
“Can you tell me which of these rattlers won’t bite you? Sure some of them won’t, but tell me which ones so we can bring them into the house,” says the post, featuring a photo of rattlesnakes above a photo of Syrian refugees. The refugee photo comes from the UN High Commissioner on Refugees and shows Syrian refugees streaming into Iraq’s Kurdistan region.
In response to the attention the post is getting, Miller told KXAN, “We certainly are a compassionate nation, no question about that. But we wouldn’t want to let in any rattlesnakes.”
“I certainly wouldn’t compare any Syrian terrorist to a rattlesnake. That would be insulting to the rattlesnake,” he said.
The Texas Democratic Party criticized the Facebook post, saying, “This tactic has become all too common for Miller and other Texas Republicans.”
“As a statewide elected official of the great state of Texas, Republican Commissioner Sid Miller should know better than to fan the flames of fear and xenophobia,” said Manny Garcia, the party’s deputy executive director.
“We are all concerned about the safety and security of our families, and the best way to deal with this crisis abroad is to lead from a position of strength not fear,” Garcia said. “Our fundamental American values and principles must guide the way. We cannot give into fear. We cannot let the terrorists change who we are.”
In August, Miller received threats after making a post on Facebook suggesting the United States should bomb the Muslim population. The post showed a mushroom cloud and said Japan has “been at peace” with the U.S. since the 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki. The end of the caption read, “It’s time we made peace with the Muslim world.”
Todd Smith, a political consultant for the commissioner, said Miller didn’t personally share the August post, but wouldn’t begin a “witch hunt” to find out who on his staff did.