“Just returned to the White House from the Great State of North Carolina. What a crowd, and what great people,” the president tweeted on Wednesday after his rally in Greenville, which featured these great people chanting the now notorious “Send her back,” referring to Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who was born in Somalia. Their racist rant came three days after Trump began his attacks on Omar and three of her fellow Democratic congresswomen—Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Last Sunday the President tweeted, “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 don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came…”
Over the next several days, Trump accused the four of spewing “some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate,” being anti-Israel, anti-USA, and pro-terrorist, and “using the F...word.” His level of invective made some Republicans jittery, panicked that this “Send her back” business might conceivably turn off the less rabidly racist members of their constituency. On Thursday, caving to pressure from senior members of Congress and, it was rumored, maybe Ivanka and Melania, the president stated, weakly and meekly, that gee whiz, he didn’t really like that chant at all! “I was not happy with it—I disagreed with it,” he asserted when a reporter asked why he didn’t stop it at once. “I think I did,” he said. “I started speaking very quickly.” This is patently untrue, as anyone who cares to watch the tape can see—Trump stands on the stage, basking in the adoration for a full 13 seconds, and when the chant finally dies down, he resumes his attacks on the four congresswomen.
The Republican response to this disgusting development ranged from the predictable—“The president clarified in there what he was talking about: a love of the country. And if you don’t love the country, leave the country,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy offered—to the outrageous: Senator Lindsey Graham alleged that the phrase “send her back” was not racist because “I’ve said before that if you’re Somali refugee wearing a ‘MAGA’ hat, he doesn’t want to send you back. You’ll probably have dinner at the White House.”
On Tuesday night, the Democratic-controlled house was not having dinner at the White House. Instead, that evening they passed resolution 489, which “strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color by saying that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should ‘go back’ to other countries....” Only four Republicans voted with the majority.
But alas, the Democrats did not follow this up with a resolution to impeach the president, killing an attempt to begin an impeachment inquiry for Trump’s statements that bring “ridicule, disgrace, and disrepute” to the office of the presidency. (Still, the vote was 137 to 95, signaling that a growing number of Dems are warming to the idea.) In any case, Trump’s unconvincing contrition was short-lived—by Friday, the president had reversed himself once again, describing the North Carolina crowd as “incredible patriots.” Asked by a reporter if he remained unhappy with the “Send her back” chant, he replied, “No, you know what I’m unhappy with—the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country…”
In other news, on Thursday, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan appeared before the House Oversight and Reform Committee and was questioned about the Border Patrol agents who belonged to a secret Facebook group of more than 10,000 agents that mocked migrants and the deaths of migrant children, and suggested harming Democratic lawmakers. “Did you see the images of officers circulating Photoshopped images of my violent rape?” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked McAleenan. “Yes, I did,” he replied.
Lastly, we never expected to see Justin Bieber show up in this sad column, but politics makes strange bedfellows indeed, and so, at least for the moment, count us among the Beliebers. Yesterday, he tweeted, referring to Trump’s efforts to get ASAP Rocky out of jail in Sweden, “I want my friend out. I appreciate you trying to help him. But while your [sic] at it @realDonaldTrump can you also let those kids out of cages?”
Originally Appeared on Vogue