President Trump has once again, for the umpteenth time in his public life, revealed himself to be a racist in a series of tweets about progressive congresswomen. And let’s abstain from the euphemisms, shall we? He didn’t just “spew racist rhetoric,” or “fan the flames of a racial fire.” He was racist because he is racist. The examples are, sadly, plentiful—from housing discrimination to birtherism to calling Mexicans “rapists” in his presidential candidacy announcement.
“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,” Trump tweeted on Sunday, perhaps after a breakfast of four Diet Cokes and a few hours of Fox News programming. “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Just to be clear: The unnamed elected officials—believed to be New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley—are all American citizens, and all but Omar were born here.
Trump’s latest comments do not shock, but they still sting with vitriol, hatred, and, not least of all, hypocrisy. If, by the president’s standards, the four congresswomen he’s presumably referring to do not truly belong here, shouldn’t the same apply to three key women in his own life: his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, who was born in Slovenia and immigrated to New York in 1996, his mother, Mary Anne McLeod Trump, who was born in Scotland and immigrated to the States in 1930, and his first wife and mother of his three eldest children, Ivana Trump, who was born in the Czech Republic and came to New York in the 1970s? Should his mom have had to “go back” to her country of origin? Should Melania and Ivana still?
Of course they shouldn’t. But for the racist uncle-in-chief who is our president, being American isn’t about whether or not you were born here. It’s about which country you’re coming from—preferably not one of the ones he deems “shitholes,” which also happen to be those whose people are primarily black or brown. White, European immigrants, however, have not drawn Trump’s ire, but his love: Trump married Ivana in 1977, 11 years before she became a naturalized U.S. citizen. His mother, Mary, spent 12 years in the U.S. before gaining citizenship in 1942. Melania became a citizen soon after Trump married her in 2005. Trump approves only selectively of immigrants, and his metric is crystal clear.
AOC, Omar, Tlaib, and Pressley don’t fit Trump’s narrow white nationalistic view of citizenship, because Pressley is a black woman, Tlaib is Muslim and the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, AOC&aposs family is Puerto Rican (an American territory, which the president prefers to overlook), and Omar was born in Somalia and secured asylum here as a child, and citizenship as a teen. To continue to note that Omar was not born in the U.S. feels problematic in itself, as if being born in the States is the only pure way to be American. It’s a standard Trump predictably has not and does not apply to Mary, Melania, or Ivana. AOC, in fact, was born in the Bronx, the exact same place as Trump’s father, Fred (you know, the one who really earned the family fortune). But a white male and a woman of Puerto Rican descent are not created equal in Trump’s mind.
The congresswomen have clearly struck a nerve with Trump with their elections and the vocal stances on his xenophobic immigration policies, including family separation and migrant detention.
“I am fighting corruption in OUR country,” Tlaib said in response to Trump&aposs tweets. “I do it every day when I hold your admin accountable as a U.S. Congresswoman.”
In fact, all four of the congresswomen have fought back and decried his comments in tweets of their own. “You are angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “You rely on a frightened America for your plunder.”
“THIS is what racism looks like,” Pressley said, quoting Trump&aposs words. “WE are what democracy looks like. And we’re not going anywhere.”
And Omar reminded everyone who continues to feel demoralized or helpless that the only possible way forward is to continue to condemn Trump’s racist words and actions, to resist becoming desensitized to the endless flow of his hate speech.
“Mr. President, as Members of Congress, the only country we swear an oath to is the United States,” she said. “Which is why we are fighting to protect it from the worst, most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen.”
Originally Appeared on Vogue