Donald Trump Tells Ilhan Omar and Other Congresswomen of Colour to ‘Go Back’ To Their Countries
by Iman Saleem
United States President Donald Trump took to Twitter earlier this month to unleash a slew of bigoted remarks against a number of Democratic Congresswomen, whom he told to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came”. For three members of the group colloquially known as The Squad – Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar – the “totally broken” places from which they came are the states of New York, Michigan and Ohio. Omar, the only member of the group born outside of the United States, was born in Somalia, a country that ranks significantly lower than the US in annual gun crime, drug use and murder statistics.
Trump continued his Twitter attack on Monday, July 15th, hours before the four congresswomen held a press conference in Washington to condemn the President’s racist rhetoric and promotion of an “agenda of white nationalism”. His tweets on Monday accused them of being anti-semitic, pro-Al-Qaeda, and “a bunch of communists”. The President took particular issue with Tlaib and Omar’s criticism of Israel and support for the BDS movement, accusing the members of Congress of being “pro-terrorist” and talking about Israel “like they’re a bunch of thugs, not victims of the entire region”.
At the press conference, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez said she was unsurprised by the President’s comments. She added, “Weak minds and leaders challenge loyalty to our country in order to avoid challenging and debating the policy.” The US House of Representatives introduced a resolution condemning President Trump’s “xenophobic tweets” the following week, a resolution which was passed by a 240-187 vote.
The President’s continued endorsement of racist sentiments that are based on little to no factual evidence has only served to further legitimize and normalize hateful bigotry within his fan-base. At a Trump 2020 campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina on Wednesday, July 17th, the crowd chanted “Send her back!” in reference to Congresswoman Omar, emboldened by the President’s remarks. At an Oval Office event the following Friday, Trump defended the crowd in North Carolina, calling them “incredible people” and “incredible patriots”.
A number of Democrats came to Omar’s defense following the rally, including 2020 Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. Former Republican congressman Joe Walsh referred to Trump’s attack as “dangerous” and “flat out bigotry”, and called on fellow Republicans to condemn the President’s comments. Congresswoman Omar’s own constituents expressed their solidarity with her as she returned to her home district of Minnesota, where she won a remarkable 78% of the vote in 2018. She was welcomed at the airport by supporters chanting, “Welcome home!”. The day before, she tweeted, “I am where I belong, at the people’s house and you’re just gonna have to deal!”.