After President Donald Trump continued his attacks on "the Squad " at a rally in Greenville, NC on Wednesday night — with the crowd feverishly chanting "Send her back!" about Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — there was an outpouring of support for Omar.
Many lawmakers and others posted their support with the hashtag #IStandWithIlhan. Democratic presidential hopefuls weighed in, with Sen. Kamala Harris calling the chant "vile," "cowardly," "xenophobic," and "racist," adding "it defiles the office of the President." Her colleague Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said misogyny is at the root of the president’s remarks and the chants. "Whether it’s ‘send her back’ or ‘lock her up,’ ‘there has to be some form of punishment,’ or ‘grab her by the p***y’ — the through line is contempt for women and anyone who threatens this president’s fragile ego," she tweeted. "He should be afraid. We are his worst nightmare. And we will beat him."
Fellow progressive Democrat Sen. Bernie Sanders also spoke up. "
# IStandWithIlhan and am proud to work with her in Congress. Trump is stoking the most despicable and disturbing currents in our society," he posted on Twitter. "And that very hatred and racism fuels him. We must fight together to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of our country."
At the rally, Trump also attacked the other members of the Squad, which is made up of four progressive congresswomen of color — Reps. Omar, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — painting them as the dangerous face of the Democratic party. "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."
Here’s full clip of Trump attacking Omar & ensuing "send her back!" chants. Couple things to note:
1) The hypnotic way Trump puts words in her mouth to make it seem like she’s an al-Qaeda supporter
2) The jingoistic grunts emanating from crowd, reminiscent of an Idiocracy scene pic.twitter.com/b8CEsgv4Uo
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 18, 2019
It was not a surprise that he reserved most of his anger toward Omar, one of the first two Muslim women ever elected to Congress along with Tlaib. After all, the president did build part of his 2016 presidential campaign on anti-Muslim sentiment. He is continuing to stoke hateful sentiments, and not only against Muslims: In November, the FBI reported there was an increase in hate crimes targeting Muslims and Jews for the third year in a row.
With his xenophobic rhetoric, he is also distracting the public from issues that actually matter, as Pressley said at a press conference the congresswomen held on Monday. "This is a disruptive distraction," said Pressley. "Don’t take the bait." The women stressed that instead of sparring with Trump over personal attacks, they are committed to working on issues such as healthcare and condemned the horrific conditions in migrant detention centers.
The comments Trump made at his rally follow a racist tirade on Sunday, when he said the four "‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe" should "go back" to where they came from. (Everyone but Omar was born in the U.S.) But the chants calling for the deportation of Omar, an American citizen and refugee who was born in Somalia, at Wednesday’s rally, reeked of white nationalism even more. Of course, Trump reportedly said he "disagrees " with the chant. But a video of the event shows no indication that he disagrees, or that he tried to put a stop to it.
The chants followed Trump’s decision to spend several minutes attacking Omar and implying she is un-American. He falsely claimed once again that the Democrat support al-Qaeda and that she “minimized the September 11 attacks on our homeland." Trump previously attacked Omar in April, just days after a New York man was arrested for threatening to assault and murder her. The Minnesota congresswoman said there was an increase in death threats against her following the president’s remarks.
The event also made it clear that Trump plans to target the progressive lawmakers, all women from communities of color, as a way to rile his base during the 2020 presidential election. It’s an old strategy from his 2016 playbook: Stoke xenophobia and racism among his supporters, and pick someone for them to hate. In the last election, it was Hillary Clinton and the "Lock her up!" chants. Those have been updated to call for deporting American citizens of color.
Omar responded to Trump and his supporters on Wednesday by writing on Twitter: “I am where I belong, at the people’s house and you’re just gonna have to deal!” She also shared Maya Angelou’s legendary poem, "Still I Rise." "You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes," she wrote. "You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise."
👋🏽 I am where I belong, at the people’s house and you’re just gonna have to deal! pic.twitter.com/W0OvDXGxQX
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) July 18, 2019
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