Close to one week after the president shared several offensive tweets about the four congresswomen of color, the former first lady, 55, provided her own input about what makes America so special in a message on Twitter.
Appearing to defend the four politicians — Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — Obama reminded her followers that the U.S. was for everyone, not just those who were born here.
“What truly makes our country great is its diversity,” she tweeted Friday. “I’ve seen that beauty in so many ways over the years. Whether we are born here or seek refuge here, there’s a place for us all.”
“We must remember it’s not my America or your America,” she added. “It’s our America.”
Though he hasn’t commented on the controversy, former President Barack Obama showed his support for his wife’s sentiments by retweeting her message.
What truly makes our country great is its diversity. I’ve seen that beauty in so many ways over the years. Whether we are born here or seek refuge here, there’s a place for us all. We must remember it’s not my America or your America. It’s our America.— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) July 19, 2019
Mrs. Obama’s message seems to allude to Trump’s initial tweets from Sunday where he ripped into the four lawmakers, known as the “Squad”, and told them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came” despite the majority of the women being born in America.
The representatives, who support progressive policies such as Medicare-for-all and abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, regularly criticize the president’s administration and have called for his impeachment.
Things escalated on Wednesday night when Trump supporters began a “send her back” chant while the president, 73, was speaking about Omar, one of the first Muslims to be elected to Congress, at a rally in North Carolina.
Omar, who was born in Somalia but is a naturalized U.S. citizen, later made it clear that she was not intimidated by their hurtful words and responded to the situation on Twitter.
“I am where I belong, at the people’s house and you’re just gonna have to deal!” the Minnesota politician, 37, stated on Wednesday evening, alongside a photo of herself wearing a hijab as she sits on the House floor.
In a separate tweet, Omar showed her resilience, yet again, and quoted 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, I’ll rise,” she wrote.
A day after the disheartening incident, Trump spoke to reporters and claimed that he did not agree with the chant and even tried to stop it, despite video showing otherwise.
“I was not happy with it. I disagree with it. I didn’t say that, they did,” he told reporters from the White House. “It was quite a chant … I felt a little bit badly about it.”
Trump also said he “started speaking very quickly” in order to cut his supporters short, though video showed he stopped speaking for more than 10 seconds as attendees chanted.
He has continued to defend his inflammatory remarks, instead, pointing to what he says is “vile” rhetoric on the part of the four congresswomen, whom he said “hate” America.
On Tuesday, hours before the House of Representatives took the rare step of formally condemning his tweets, Trump tweeted, “I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!”
When asked by a reporter on Thursday whether the crowd was not just echoing what Trump had said in his tweets, the president responded, “Well, if you examine it, I don’t think you’ll find that.”
He also previously said the backlash “doesn’t concern me, because many people agree with me. All I’m saying is if they want to leave, they can leave now.”