To deny that Donald Trump traffics in racist tropes is to stand in the sun in mid-July and to say that you freezing and could you please have an overcoat and mittens.
Where to begin on Trump’s Twitter broadside Sunday against four Democratic members of Congress?
Its mangling of facts? Trump suggested that if freshmen Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, all women of color, couldn’t say anything good about America, they should go back to where they came from. All but one were born in the United States. The one who wasn’t, Omar, is a U.S. citizen who has lived here since she was 10.
Its implied thesis is that some of us are more American than others? The “invitation” to go back to where you came from has long been used to demean persons of color. When one of the Little Rock Nine was integrating Central High School in 1957, a jeering white student screamed in her ear: “Why don’t you go back to Africa?”
Is it the tweet’s premise that you must “love it or leave it”? Which is to say, that you must find America utterly and completely without fault — or that you should live instead in Siberia or North Korea? Or perhaps on another planet?
Speaking of saying things that are un-American, what, exactly, constitutes that? Is it disparaging the parents of a soldier who died in combat? Is it criticizing a U.S. senator because he was shot down and captured during the Vietnam War? Is it announcing that you believe what Vladimir Putin says over your own intelligence agencies?
Is it embracing a murderous North Korean dictator on whose watch an American prisoner, 22-year-old Otto Warmbier, was returned home in a coma and died shortly thereafter? And then saying you believe that dictator when he professes that he has no idea how this happened? Or is it proclaiming, without evidence, that a sitting U.S. president is not a U.S. citizen?
Trump said all of those things. Should he go back to Germany?
Predictably, one of the audiences that seem most thrilled which Trump behaves like this is white nationalists and avowed racists. “This is the kind of WHITE NATIONALISM we elected him for,” wrote Andrew Anglin on the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer.
As for Republicans standing up to Trump’s divisiveness, don’t count on it. A House resolution condemning his comments passed mostly along party lines Tuesday night. Among those who opposed it: Triad Reps. Ted Budd and Mark Walker.
Walker said Monday in a gentle rebuke: “We defeat socialism by highlighting its inequalities and failures, not the lineage of those who promote its failed policies.” Then he went on to praise Trump’s work “in serving our minority communities” as “unparalleled.”
Budd dismissed the resolution as “meaningless,” adding that it “does nothing to improve the lives of hardworking folks back in my district.”
Budd was right about one thing: This is a distraction — by Trump, who routinely concocts diversions after setbacks.
So, we’ll remind you what happened last week: Trump dropped his ill-advised efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, his secretary of labor resigned in the wake of mounting questions about his lax prosecution of a sexual predator — and cruelty by fiat at the southern border continued.
So, why are we addressing Trump’s corrosive posts at all? Because we have to. Such foulness cannot be allowed to become the norm in American discourse. It is vile. It is dangerous. And it is un-American.