Donald Trump has been on a racist Twitter tear over the last few days, attacking four progressive congresswomen of color, accusing them of hating America and that they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime[-]infested places from which they came”. This ‘go back to your own country’ is what is said by racists when they encounter a person of color or someone speaking Spanish in a public place, because they assume that America is a place only for white people. Of the four, three were born in the US and the fourth Ilhan Omar came as a child as a refugee.
Democratic congressman Jim Himes pointed out the obvious.
Unlike the Democratic Congresswomen @realDonaldTrump attacked today, I actually am a foreign-born Member of Congress. But I’m a white male of European descent, so there’s no chance he’ll attack me.
His tantrum has nothing to do with birthplace.
— Jim Himes (@jahimes) July 14, 2019
The mainstream media and Republican legislators have been placed in a quandary as to whether to call the tweets what they are, and that is ‘racist’, or to use some euphemism or accompanied by distancing qualifiers such as ‘critics say’. They have been all over the place. The New York Times in its usual cowardly way described his tweets as ‘racially infused’, which drew widespread mockery on Twitter. But what can you expect from a paper that refused to call the Bush-Cheney waterboarding program ‘torture’ which it clearly was, but instead went with the government-promoted euphemism ‘enhanced interrogation’. But I was glad to hear NPR yesterday morning on its news headlines refer to Trump’s ‘racist tweets’.
Trump’s tweets were so appalling that even Theresa May weighed in saying that they were “completely unacceptable”, and Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau said, “I think Canadians and indeed people around the world know exactly what I think about those particular comments. That is not how we do things in Canada. A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” These were noteworthy in that while Trump routinely interferes in the internal affairs of other countries, it is unheard of for other leaders to comment on the internal affairs of the US. But while their comments were welcome, note that neither called Trump’s comments ‘racist’.
Jeremy Corbyn had no such hesitation in calling the tweets racist, and in the process slammed May and also Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson, the two contenders for May’s position, for their cowardly evasions.
Telling four Congresswomen of colour to “go back” is racist. But the Tory leadership candidates can’t bring themselves to say so.
We should stand up to Donald Trump, not pander to him for a sweetheart trade deal which would put our NHS at risk.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) July 16, 2019
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said that she will bring a motion to the floor condemning the tweets and it will be interesting to see how many Republican are willing to vote for it and risk Trump’s ire. Only one Republican has been unequivocal so far.
I am confident that every Member of Congress is a committed American. @realDonaldTrump’s tweets from this weekend were racist and he should apologize. We must work as a country to rise above hate, not enable it.
— US Rep. Mike Turner (@RepMikeTurner) July 15, 2019
When I first read of Trump’s racist attacks, I thought that this meant that some news unfavorable to Trump was about to emerge because his favorite tactic in such situations is to create a distraction that the media will focus on to avoid his latest failure becoming the main topic of conversation. He did this last week with the announcement of widespread round up and deportation of undocumented immigrants on the day when he was backing down on the citizenship question on the census form. That roundup did not occur, at least on nowhere near the sale he promised, confirming my belief that the announcement was a smokescreen.
I initially assumed that this latest outburst had the same purpose but there does not seem to be any other bad news coming out so maybe this was due to his anger over the bad publicity he and the Republican party have been getting about the horrendous treatment being meted out to the migrants being kept in the cages and treated despicably.
Or it may be that Trump realizes that he really has no ‘successes’ to point to other than giving a big tax cut for the wealthy and removing many regulations on big corporations, neither of which improve the lives of ordinary people or were the things he promised them on his campaign. He withdrew from NAFTA but has not been able to get anything to replace it. His ‘achievements’ have all been negative ones. He withdrew from the Iran deal and has not been able to negotiate a new one. He withdrew from the INF treaty but has no new deal there either. The budget deficit has exploded and the debt has also increased. He has had no success with North Korea. He has no infrastructure plan. He has no health care plan. US forces are still in Afghanistan and Iraq and Syria, not to mention many other places. He has no border wall. The number of people trying to come across the border as refuges and asylum seekers have increased. He has no legislative agenda.
The only thing he can do to distract attention from his utter lack of accomplishments as a president is to ramp up the racism to drown out the little voice in his head that tells him he is a failure.
Given that string of failures, Trump may have decided that straight-up racism is the best way to win elections and keep his followers loyal to him. Indeed, when asked if was concerned about his tweets inspiring racists, Trump replied, “It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me.” He is of course absolutely right. There are a lot of racists out there. The real question is how many. Are there enough to win the next election? The Republican party seems to have chosen a path where they are going to run for elected office on an openly racist platform. The days of dog whistles are gone. The only things missing are the white sheets and hoods and cross burnings.
Seth Meyers had no hesitation in calling out Trump’s racism and slamming those who are trying to evade that obvious truth.