Terry H. Schwadron
July 18, 2019
Does Donald Trump want a brown shirt to complete his rally wardrobe? It seems to be all that is missing.
As he showed at his most recent North Carolina rally, Trump is whipping up vocal hatred for The Other, personified by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-MN, with the crowd chanting “Send her back! Send her back!”
By yesterday, Trump said he was “not happy” with the chant, and insisted that he had tried to stop it — a notion that is contradicted by the video playing every 10 minutes. Other Republicans tried distancing themselves.
Too little, too late. Trump now owns it.
Trump has found his new Hillary Clinton, the instant target for vilification, accusing her of anti-Trump, anti-American, anti-Semitic remarks that he wants to use to typify all Democrats as an easily understood and recognizable political foe.
Like authoritarian leaders everywhere, Trump and his crowd are using simplistic banners to call out stereotypical cut-outs for derision for opposing The Leader. You’ve seen it in North Korea or Turkey or Germany of yore. The crowd wanted to be a mob.
Trump’s charges are not only racist and mysognist, they are wrong.
Trump accuses Omar of anti-Semitic statements and anti-American sentiments. She “hated America,” he said, and constantly complains.
Here’s what Omar, a Somalia-born naturalized citizen, has said over time:
— As a Muslim herself, she has criticized automatic, unquestioning support for the current right-leaning Israeli government, and the control that the pro-Israel lobby has in Congress. That is criticism of an Israeli government that is continuing to take more Arab land, that has passed legislation to limit Arab Israeli voting rights, that wants to be an occupying force in the West Bank and Gaza. It is not anti-Jewish, it is anti-Israeli government policy. She supports an Israeli boycott. That is not anti-Semitic.
— Omar and her Squad sisters criticize inhumane treatment of migrants in detention centers on the southern border. Among the Squad comments have been those by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez comparing the detention centers to concentration camps. Those sentiments are not anti-American. That is totally within the bounds of American society and should be the majority opinion among all of Congress.
— Trump also falsely said that Omar has made statements supporting Al Quaeda, choosing loose language that she later rued that “some people” had attacked the World Trade Center on 9/11. She has not supported Al Quaeda. Check it out here.
What Trump does not do is actually criticize Bernie Sanders in the same way, despite the senator’s self-identification as a democratic socialist. He does not pick on 28 other congress members born outside of the United States. Instead, the criticism of Omar and the four women of The Squad selectively identifies females of color and a progressive bent. Trump insists it is not racism to call for American congresswomen to be deported back to war-torn Somalia.
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity regulationssay specifically: “Ethnic slurs and other verbal or physical conduct because of nationality are illegal if they are severe or pervasive and create an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment, interfere with work performance, or negatively affect job opportunities. Examples of potentially unlawful conduct include insults, taunting, or ethnic epithets, such as making fun of a person’s foreign accent or comments like, ‘Go back to where you came from,’ whether made by supervisors or by co-workers.”
Here’s Trump: “These congresswomen are helping the rise of a militant, hard left. They never have anything good to say, which is why I say, ‘If they don’t like it, let them leave.’” Trump said. “They don’t love our country, and in some cases I think they hate our country.”
Even as the Democratic-majority House rebuked his repeated remarks as racist, Trump used his rally to make clear that he plans to use his criticism of the liberal lawmakers as a rallying cry during his 2020 campaign.
For her part, Omar tweeted, “I am where I belong, at the people’s house and you’re just gonna have to deal!” She also shared a poem by Maya Angelou: “You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise.”
Democrats running for president quickly condemned Trump’s remarks at the rally.
His message is nationalist and personal who sees only winners and losers, who restates fact to match his own image promotion, who clearly favors a world dominated by white men.
His crowd views him as an iconoclastic savior. The rest of us increasingly view him as a dangerous, authoritarian-leaning, ego-centric personality who eschews any and all traditions, protocols, understanding or depth required to be a successful president.
Trump says he loves America. He just hates Americans.