August 18, 2019
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Trump’s divisive ‘go back’ remarks are anti-American

J. Scott Applewhite | AP
J. Scott Applewhite | AP
From left, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Massachusetts, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan, respond to remarks by President Donald Trump after his call for the four Democratic congresswomen to go back to their "broken" countries Monday during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington. All are American citizens and three of the four were born in the U.S.

Outrage fatigue is a growing problem in America. It is tiring and impossible to remain outraged by the abhorrent and divisive comments and actions from the president and his administration. This, of course, does not mean that every statement, policy or nomination from President Donald Trump is cause for outrage or indignation.

However, the president has a long history of comments denigrating minorities, immigrants, women and others. And he’s too often turned his animosity toward these and other people into harmful and hateful policies.

When the president crosses the line of human decency, when he suggests that some Americans are less than others, when he disregards basic facts about people’s origins and American citizenship, we must speak out. We don’t want to be part of an exhausting and endless cycle of outrage, but to remain silent here is to normalize the president’s rhetoric and actions.

To be clear, there is nothing normal about telling American citizens to “go back” where they came from. In fact, this represents a fundamental misunderstanding — or willful misrepresentation — of the rights and responsibilities that come with citizenship — and membership in Congress. It also betrays a dangerous — and racist — view of who is American.

But, this is exactly what Trump did 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,” he tweeted. “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!”

His tweets were presumably directed at Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who are not white. Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley and Tlaib were born in America. Omar is a naturalized citizen. She arrived in the U.S. at the age of 10 after her family fled Somalia.

Telling people to “go back” where they came from is a hateful slur that has been used for centuries. It is meant to intimidate and devalue. It has no place in the White House — or anywhere in America, for that matter.

Sen. Susan Collins was among the first Republicans to put out a formal statement, albeit a tepid one, condemning the president’s comments.

“I disagree strongly with many of the views and comments of some of the far-left members of the House Democratic Caucus – especially when it comes to their views on socialism, their anti-Semitic rhetoric, and their negative comments about law enforcement – but the President’s tweet that some Members of Congress should go back to the ‘places from which they came’ was way over the line, and he should take that down,” she said in the statement Monday afternoon

The beauty of America — and our democracy — is that we thrive because of our differing views, backgrounds and priorities. We have long valued the notion that everyone has something to contribute, to our national debate, to our communities, to the American family.

We certainly don’t agree with all of these congresswomen’s statements or policy proposals, but it is offensive — and factually wrong — to suggest that they should go back to places where they have never been. They are, for all their faults and misstatements, Americans — just like the president.

 



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