The common catcall of “go back where you came from” is cringeworthy enough when shouted from a passing car. Tweeted at sitting members of Congress by the president, it is unnerving.
@realDonaldTrump tweeted this on Sunday: “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.”
One would think a president knows that by definition, members of Congress are citizens. Of course, that doesn’t really play into the reality that the “go back” racist taunt is never used on white people. It is all too commonly thrown at people of African, Asian, Native, Pacific Island or Hispanic heritage, even if their ancestors lived in North America before the Mayflower arrived.
Four Democrat freshmen congresswomen, who have been wrestling with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about taking a more aggressive posture on impeachment hearings and inhumane immigration enforcement, believe President Trump was referring to them.
Of Puerto Rican descent, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York has been the leader of outspoken progressives. Trump has seemed uncertain about the fact that all Puerto Ricans are American citizens. That island remains severely damaged by Hurricane Maria, but hardly qualifies as totally broken.
Perhaps when he spoke of governments that were “a total catastrophe,” Trump was referring to Detroit, the birthplace of Rep. Rashida Tlaib, or Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s Cincinnati birthplace, or maybe Boston, which she represents. The mayors of those cities were probably pretty surprised to be called inept.
Minnesotan Rep. Ilhan Omar was born in war-ravaged Somalia. Her family fled and eventually came to the U.S. when Omar was 12. Unlike Trump, and other insensitive louts who feel overly entitled, she affirmatively chose her allegiance to this nation.
That the president of the United States thinks it is acceptable to attack legitimately elected opponents with this kind of racist, xenophobic slur is utterly unacceptable.
No political win is worth the cost of embracing racism. Voters should make their displeasure known now and get ready to express it at the polls in the 2020 election.