Chant follows Trumps racist tweets targeting Omar and three other Democratic congresswomen of color

Goaded on by the president, a crowd at a Donald Trump rally on Wednesday night chanted send her back! send her back! in reference to Ilhan Omar, a US congresswoman who arrived almost 30 years ago as a child refugee in the United States.

Trump used the 2020 campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina, to attack Omar and three other Democratic congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan calling them hate-filled extremists. The group, which calls itself the Squad, has been the focus of racist attacks by the president this week, kickstarted by tweets posted Sunday in which he said the lawmakers, all women of color, should go back to other countries.

Omar, of Minnesota, arrived in the United States at age eight as a refugee of war from Somalia. Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley and Tlaib were born in the United States.


What did Trump say in his racist go back tweets?

On 14 July Trump sent a series of tweets saying:

So interesting to see Progressive Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why dont they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you cant leave fast enough. Im sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!

The US president did not name his targets, but the attack was directed at congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts; Rashida Tlaib of Michigan; and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Only Omar, who is from Somalia, was not born in the US.

Trump has subsequently launched several further attacks on the congresswoman accusing them of “foul language & racist hatred“. On 16 July he tweeted that they had been “spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate, & yet they get a free pass and a big embrace from the Democrat Party. Horrible anti-Israel, anti-USA, pro-terrorist & public shouting of the F…word, among many other terrible things.”

He also reiterated the ‘go home’ message, tweeting “IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY HERE, YOU CAN LEAVE!”

Trumps go back tweets were prompted by an appearance before a House committee in which the congresswomen testified to inhumane conditions they witnessed during tours of migrant detention facilities in Texas.

Trumps tweets led the House to pass a resolution of condemnation. Every single member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, should join us in condemning the presidents racist tweets, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said on Tuesday. To do anything less would be a shocking rejection of our values and a shameful abdication of our oath of office to protect the American people.

But clearly sensing a political winner notwithstanding polling showing that a majority of Americans found his remarks to be offensive Trump riffed on the theme at his rally.

Let em leave, Trump said of the members of Congress. Theyre always telling us how to run it, how to do this, how to do that. You know what? If they dont love it, tell em to leave it.

The crowd chimed in as he finished, shouting leave it. The chant send her back was an embroidery of a chant popular during Trumps first presidential run, when crowds attacked his opponent, Hillary Clinton, with chants of lock her up.

The lock her up chant was led at the Republican national convention in Cleveland, Ohio, by Trumps then campaign adviser Michael Flynn, who later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI but has so far avoided prison time.

At least three former Trump aides have been locked up since the 2016 campaign, including Trumps former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his former adviser Michael Cohen, and his former adviser George Papadopoulos, while others, including Flynn and Trumps former adviser Rick Gates, have pleaded guilty to federal felonies.

Trumps speech in North Carolina also included a professed exasperation with the fact that Ocasio-Cortezs name is hyphenated.

No, no: I dont have time to go with three different names, Trump said. Well call her Cortez. Too much time. Takes too much time.

The scene drew reactions of shock and horror from across the political spectrum. The bigoted mob chanting send her back tonight is significant, tweeted Walter Shaub, a former director of the US office of government ethics under Barack Obama.

When you outdo [Richard] Nixon in repulsiveness, youve gone a long way, said commentator David Gergen on CNN, a veteran of the Nixon and other Republican administrations.

SEND HER BACK, SEND HER BACK, is ugly. Its ignorant. Its dangerous, tweeted Joe Walsh, the conservative radio host and former Republican congressman. And its un-American. Its flat out bigotry. And every Republican should condemn this bigotry immediately. Stop this now.

Omar herself responded with a tweet on Wednesday evening, in which she quoted 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, Ill rise. She later posted: I am where I belong, at the peoples house and youre just gonna have to deal.

Democrats including Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren came to Omars defence on Wednesday night.

On Twitter, Sanders said Trump was stoking the most despicable and disturbing currents in our society, Harris labelled the behaviour as vile, cowardly and racist, while Warren said impeachment proceedings against the president must begin.

Fellow Democratic presidential hopeful Beto ORourke said the chants were the product of a president who sees our diversity not as a strength but as a weakness.



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