First off,Trump’s latest racist tirade is wildly off the mark, because two of the four women he aimed it at (AOC and Rep. Pressley) aren’t immigrants. Not first, not second, not third generation.
A day has passed without prominent Republicans stepping forward to disagree with President Trump’s notion that four minority congresswomen who have been critical of his approach to immigration enforcement should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
Insinuating that people of color are foreigners, the president used a trope broadly viewed as racist when he tweeted on Sunday morning that the Democratic women, only one of whom was born outside the United States and all of whom are American citizens, “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe.”
The silence of Republican leaders appeared to suggest either that they agreed with the views expressed by their standard-bearer or that he has so effectively consolidated his control over their party that they have grown disinclined to voice dissent. — www.washingtonpost.com/…
In the face of Trump’s nakedly racist attack, Republicans are silent. It isn’t surprising. Trump’s latest attacks spring from the same ground that grew his attempts to lynch the Central Park Five and his birther attacks on Obama. Republicans have studiously ignored all his prior racism, we shouldn’t expect anything different from them this time around.
I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am disgusted that neither Bobby Jindal nor Nikki Haley have anything to say about this latest bout of racism aimed squarely at immigrants. Both of them are senior Republicans, both are second generation immigrants from India. Yes, they’ve both “assimilated” by adopting “Americanized” names and giving up their parents’ religion. Of course they know that none of this is going to stop a racist like Trump.
It is absolutely shameful that they remain silent as this targeted barb is aimed directly at their identity and those of their children.
The fact is that every immigrant in America has heard some variation of “go back where you came from” at some point in their lives. Decades ago, when I mentioned I might choose to work and stay in the US, the person I was dating in effect told me what Trump just told the Squad. Her comment was couched in much, much softer language, but that just made it so much more memorable.
Most immigrants have learned to brush it off, but it still hurts as Waleed reminds us below.
I have to say this stuff from Trump really hurt more than I thought it would.
You get a visceral, physical reaction in your gut when someone says “Go back to your country.”
It makes your nerves tingle, your face hot. It makes you enraged, depressed.
Nobody deserves this shit.
— Waleed Shahid (@_waleedshahid) July 14, 2019
The slur dredges murky questions of identity and the unsettling sensation of not belonging. It’s tougher for those in the 2nd generation, most of whom (like Waleed here) have known nothing but an American identity. For those like me who are first generation immigrants, it’s easier to brush off. I’ve lived between two worlds and made my own choices as to where I want to be. My children didn’t make that choice, and see themselves purely as Americans.
The “go back to where you came from” slur isn’t a uniquely American thing. Most minorities, “others” in other countries have experienced some version of it. It is the driving sentiment behind the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya people who’ve lived in Myanmar for centuries.
The example of the Rohingya isn’t a reach. Trump’s entire platform, from the very beginning, has been to ethnically cleanse the US. It’s behind his campaign, his rhetoric, his hiring of people like Stephen Miller.
Of course, you don’t have to be an immigrant to know this unsettling feeling. It is the sentiment behind Langston Hughes’ refrain “America never was America to me”. And that poem exhorts us to do what must be done in the face of such slurs:
O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be! —
Thankfully, the Squad understands this and knows what we need to do to make America what it should be.
THIS is what racism looks like. WE are what democracy looks like. And we’re not going anywhere. Except back to DC to fight for the families you marginalize and vilify everyday. pic.twitter.com/vYzoxCgN0X
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) July 14, 2019
Mr. President, the country I “come from,” & the country we all swear to, is the United States.
But given how you’ve destroyed our border with inhumane camps, all at a benefit to you & the corps who profit off them, you are absolutely right about the corruption laid at your feet. https://t.co/HLKQCotR8T
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 14, 2019
Yo @realDonaldTrump, I am fighting corruption in OUR country. I do it every day when I hold your admin accountable as a U.S. Congresswoman. Detroit taught me how to fight for the communities you continue to degrade & attack. Keep talking, you’ll be out of the WH soon. #TickTock
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) July 14, 2019
As Members of Congress, the only country we swear an oath to is the United States.
Which is why we are fighting to protect it from the worst, most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen. https://t.co/FBygHa2QTt
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) July 14, 2019
The ‘Squad’ is big. If you share the values and believe in working for a more equitable and just world, you are part of the ‘Squad.’ https://t.co/xk9nDyBS85
— Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) July 15, 2019
It’s important to note that the President’s words yday, telling four American Congresswomen of color “go back to your own country,” is hallmark language of white supremacists.
Trump feels comfortable leading the GOP into outright racism, and that should concern all Americans.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 15, 2019