'Go back home': Trump aims racist attack at Ocasio-Cortez and other congresswomen

  15 July 2019    Read: 1261

Donald Trump used racist language to attack “the Squad” on Sunday, saying four progressive Democrats who have clashed with party leaders should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”, the Guardian reports. 

“You can’t leave fast enough,” he added.

Trump did not name his targets but the members of “the Squad” are Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts; Rashida Tlaib of Michigan; and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

Only Omar, who is from Somalia, was not born in America. Pressley is African American, Tlaib was born to Palestinian immigrants and Ocasio-Cortez comes from a New York-Puerto Rican family.

Tlaib responded by saying Trump “needs to be impeached”.

Ocasio-Cortez said “the country I ‘come from’, and the country we all swear to, is the United States”. Omar called Trump “the worst, most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen”. Pressley said: “This is what racism looks like. We are what democracy looks like.”

Bernie Sanders was among others who called the attack racist. “When I call the president a racist,” the Vermont senator wrote, “this is what I’m talking about”.

Justin Amash, a Michigan congressman who left the Republican party over his opposition to Trump, called the remarks “racist and disgusting”.

Trump responded to the outcry on Twitter on Sunday evening, saying it was “sad to see the Democrats sticking up for people who speak so badly of our country”.

Earlier Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said: “If Trump shouted the same thing at a Muslim woman wearing hijab in a Walmart, he might be arrested.”

The Squad’s run-in with House speaker Nancy Pelosi, initially over the humanitarian crisis at the southern border and including her reluctance to begin impeachment proceedings, has filled column inches. Ocasio-Cortez told the Washington Post Pelosi was being “outright disrespectful” with “the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color”.

On Friday Trump defended Pelosi, saying: “She is not a racist.”

In tweets on Sunday, the president wrote that it was “so interesting to see ‘progressive’ Democrat congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful nation on earth, how our government is to be run.

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime[-]infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough.

“I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

Pelosi responded by saying Trump had shown that his plan to “Make America Great Again” had “always been about making America white again”.

Kamala Harris said Trump’s comments were “absolutely racist and un-American.”

The presidential trolling may have been meant as a distraction from immigration raids due in major cities on Sunday.

It was far from the first time Trump had been accused of holding racist views. He launched his political career with false claims that Barack Obama was not born in the US and his presidential campaign with the claim many Mexicans were “rapists”. Last year, during a White House meeting, he wondered why the US was admitting migrants from “shithole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador and several African nations.

On CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, was asked if Trump’s tweets “feed into this impression that the president is racist and is pushing a racist agenda”.

Cuccinelli said the tweets were examples of “rhetoric for the presidential race”.

All the congresswomen have emerged as key voices in a Democratic party split over how to beat Trump at the polls.

Omar was born in Somalia and came to the US at 12 after a spell in a refugee camp. Elected to Congress in November as one of its first two Muslim women, she has emerged as a hate figureamong Fox News hosts and Trump’s hard-right support.

Tlaib, the other Muslim woman in Congress, was born in Detroit. Pressley was born in Cincinnati. Ocasio-Cortez was born in New York.

Trump has regularly attacked Omar and ridiculed Ocasio-Cortez, although a new book does contain expressions seemingly denoting respect for the New Yorker.

Democratic debate continues. On Sunday the Texas congressman Lloyd Doggett said on Twitter Trump’s attack was “racism pure and simple” but perhaps unwittingly echoed attacks on Pelosi when he said the president “fears the power of these strong, effective, American women of color”.

Sanders told NBC’s Meet the Press Pelosi was being “a little bit” too tough on the Squad and said: “You cannot ignore the young people of this country, who are passionate about economic and racial and social and environmental justice.”

The New Mexico congressman Ben Ray Luján stuck up for the speaker, telling Fox News Sunday that “as a person of color, as the highest-ranking Hispanic in Congress, I can tell you that Nancy Pelosi has lifted up my voice to make sure that I’ve had opportunities and to make sure my voice has been heard, as well.”

At Netroots in Philadelphia on Saturday, Tlaib said that in politics, “you have to be unapologetically you”. She made an impression that way in January, telling supporters: “We’re going to impeach the motherfucker.”

On Sunday, Tlaib was the first to respond.

“Want a response to a lawless [and] complete failure of a president?” she wrote. “He is the crisis. His dangerous ideology is the crisis. He needs to be impeached.”

Omar, Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez followed, the last with a lengthy rebuke.

“You are angry,” she wrote, “because you don’t believe in an America where I represent New York 14, where the good people of Minnesota elected [Omar], where [Tlaib] fights for Michigan families, where [Pressley] champions little girls in Boston.

“You are angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us. You rely on a frightened America for your plunder.”

 


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