Congress Should Condemn Trump’s Racist Comments
Written by Palesa Mokoena on July 17, 2019
From left, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, respond to remarks by President Donald Trump after his call for the four congresswomen to go back to their “broken” countries, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, DC, July 15, 2019. ©AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Update: The resolution rebuking the president’s racist attacks on sitting members of Congress has passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 240 to 187.
It is no coincidence that the lawmakers President Donald Trump attacked over the weekend with his racist tweets had recently been vocal critics of the inhumane conditions asylum seekers face in US custody. These conditions, which Human Rights Watch has documented extensively, violate federal statutes and international human rights law that protect asylum seekers and children.
US Representative Tom Malinowski has drafted a House resolution rebuking the president’s racist attacks on sitting members of Congress. It states that the House of Representatives “strongly condemns President Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.”
The four congresswomen targeted – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib – are all US citizens and three of the four are US born. By suggesting “they go back to where they come from,” the president questioned their claim to US citizenship – their belonging.
Instead of issuing an apology, Trump denied his actions were racist and continued his onslaught.
Trump’s most recent outburst cannot be separated from his long history of racist actions and rhetorical attacks on people of color and women, nor from his administration’s abusive immigration policies.
Trump was one of the main proponents of the “birtherism” conspiracy that alleged that former President Barack Obama was not a US citizen and more recently said that Black National Football League players who kneel to protest police violence during the anthem should not be in the country. As president, he has obtained a ban on people from certain Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, separated migrant families at the border, detained babies and children, and returned asylum seekers to dangerous conditions in Mexico.
The racism that Trump exhibited in his tweets to the lawmakers animates his abusive immigration policies. Language matters, and the US government can only address these abuses if it pushes back against the racism at their heart. Congress should overwhelmingly approve the resolution.