Sen. Marco Rubio is urging President Biden to seek “training on unconscious bias” after using the term “Neanderthal” to criticize Republican governors who ended COVID-19 mask mandates.
The Florida Republican humorously described the word as a “stereotype” and noted Thursday that many people of Eurasian ancestry descend from the extinct hominid species.
“President Biden’s use of an old stereotype is hurtful to modern Europeans, Asians & Americans who inherit about 2% of their genes from Neanderthal ancestors,” Rubio tweeted.
“He should apologize for his insensitive comments and seek training on unconscious bias.”
Rubio linked to a CNN article that reported on Princeton University research finding some Neanderthal DNA among Africans, too.
Neanderthals went extinct around 40,000 years ago after humans migrated out of Africa.
On Wednesday, Biden told reporters, “the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that, in the meantime, everything is fine, take off your mask.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday said that Biden was not making a personal attack when he deployed the word against Republican Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Tate Reeves of Mississippi.
“The behavior of a Neanderthal, just to be very clear, the behavior of,” Psaki stressed at her daily press briefing.
“What everybody saw yesterday was a reflection of his frustration and exasperation.”