Andrew Yang by the Forward

Will Andrew Yang Bring Up Circumcision In The Democratic Primary Debate?

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Andrew Yang, a presidential candidate who has come out against circumcision and gotten the attention of the “alt-right,” will participate in the Democratic primary debate on Thursday.

Yang will be up against nine other candidates in the second night of the first 2020 debate, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Kamala Harris and Senator Bernie Sanders. It will be aired at 9 p.m. on NBC and MSNBC.

While Yang, an entrepreneur with no political background, is still a fringe candidate, he’s steadily becoming a familiar face. His campaign includes more than 100 policy proposals, The Washington Post reported, with his universal basic income plan getting the most buzz. His “freedom dividend” entails giving every American adult $1,000 a month, which would give them more economic security if increased automation from robots and artificial intelligence leads to mass layoffs, according to The New York Times.

The idea has garnered an internet fanbase called the “Yang Gang” that creates memes and shares support using the hashtag #securethebag. It’s also elicited some unexpected fans, including members of the “alt-right.“ Prominent white nationalists such as Richard Spencer and Andrew Anglin have shared their support for Yang, claiming that securing a universal basic income was a key point of concern for whites, the Times reported. Spencer described Yang as “the most grounded presidential candidate of my lifetime.”

Yang, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, has condemned the “alt-right” and its views.

“It’s uncomfortable,” he said. “They’re antithetical to everything I stand for.”

Yang is running on a mostly progressive platform, supporting marijuana legalization and Puerto Rican statehood. But he’s also proffered proposals regarding a less frequently discussed issue — circumcision. Yang may be the first ever presidential candidate to take a public stance on circumcision; in March, he said he’s against the practice, which is often done for religious purposes. He said if elected, he would include that view into public policy.

“I’m highly aligned with the intactivists,” Yang told The Daily Beast, referring to those who oppose circumcision. “History will prove them even more correct.”

He walked back his comments the following day, clarifying that the decision should be up to parents.

Attempts to ban circumcision have often been called anti-Semitic, as the practice is one of Judaism’s oldest rituals.

Alyssa Fisher is a writer at the Forward. Email her at fisher@forward.com, or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

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