As is his wont whenever he premeditatively steps into a pile of doo-doo, President Donald Trump either tries to deny that anything is sticking to his shoe or claims it was an accident.
So it is with his false claim that he tried to stop the “send her back” chant at a rally in North Carolina this week that was aimed at Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — one of four liberal Democratic women of color whom Trump has singled out recently for his vitriolic attacks.
Although the president himself did not mouth the offensive chant coming from his supporters, he all but orchestrated for them to do so.
He began the build-up by sending out a tweet last weekend telling the four congresswomen that if they didn’t like this country, they should go home — ignoring the fact that three of them were born in the U.S. and the other, Omar, came here as a teen and is a U.S. citizen. In other words, this country is as much their home as it is Trump’s, who by the way is only two generations removed from being an immigrant himself.
In subsequent days, he kept up the harangue, hoping to tie the Democratic Party to this fringe element on the far left and thus enhance his re-election chances next year. It was scary, but no surprise, that by Wednesday’s rally, Trump had his ultraconservative base ginned up enough to make a good imitation of a fascist cheer of the 1940s or a segregationist one of the 1960s. It was too late afterward for the president to try to throw water on the flames he intentionally fanned.
Even if you approve of Trump’s policies — and there have admittedly been some good developments in the economy and in the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court during his time in office — you should be worried about the low theater he practices.
America is supposed to be a place that welcomes dissent, that respects those who challenge the status quo, that defends the right of its citizens to criticize those in power. It’s only when we have forgotten those principles that we close down and say, “If you don’t like it, then leave.”
If anyplace should be sensitive to the havoc that can come when minority rights are oppressed, when outsiders are treated with hostility, when people of good will are cowed into silence by the shouts of the mob, it should be Mississippi.
We’ve come too far to let anyone, including the president of the United States, drag us back there.