Supporting President Trump has always required a stubborn willingness to look the other way, but his latest crimes against American ideals and simple decency put even passive Trumpers at risk for whiplash.
After a news cycle in which Congressional Republicans and other Trump apologists contorted themselves to excuse the president’s calls for a quartet of black and brown congresswomen to “go back” to their countries of origin as anything but racist, he thanked them by upping the ante at a Wednesday “Cult 45” rally in North Carolina.
Trump blasted “the squad” — U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — as America-hating communists who want to destroy the country and the white, Christian Republicans it was created to benefit. The only one of the four not born here, Omar immigrated from Somalia as a child. She is a Muslim who has been critical of Israel and was singled out for extra .opprobrium.
“She looks down with contempt on hard-working Americans, saying that “ignorance is pervasive in many parts of this country,’” Trump said. The crowd responded with a display of pervasive ignorance, chanting, “Send her back!”
The ugly scene put a pin in a phony debate about whether the phrase “Go back where you came from” is racist/bigoted/xenophobic. It is. Always has been. It is officially recognized as discriminatory by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and anyone who is honest about what words mean.
Still don’t think so? Consider this: Omar has been an American citizen longer than Melania Trump or her family, who became citizens through the “chain migration” Trump and his minions are supposed to loathe. Omar is black. Melania is white. Omar is a Muslim. Melania is the most “Christian” woman to ever pose nude in men’s magazines.
If you don’t see the difference, you’re looking the other way. That’s OK. Trumpers are Americans, too. You have a right to pretend that Trump is not a racist, and that your support for him doesn’t implicate you as racists. You have no right, however, to expect the rest of us Americans to pretend along with you.
What we have witnessed over the past couple of days is Trump’s campaign strategy for 2020. “Send her back” is “Lock her up” in blackface and a head scarf. If anyone believes Trump’s supporters are racists, it’s Trump himself.
He’s banking on it.