The recent derogatory tweets directed towards four American democratic congresswomen by the President of the United States, Donald Trump, read more like a storybook villain’s tirade than of the commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful nation.
The tweets from Trump, stating that the congresswomen “who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe” should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came” have been condemned as nothing but racism. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution on the matter on July 15, reprimanding the president for the comments. Yet, the president has not apologized or expressed any remorse for the remarks. In fact, Trump has stood by his comments, not deleting his tweets and even defending the integrity of his opinions.
At a rally in North Carolina on July 17, the president’s supporters chanted messages calling for Representative Ilhan Omar, the congresswoman from Minnesota, to be sent back to Somalia, the country where she came from. In his speech, Trump targeted Omar specifically, as an unpatriotic, ISIS sympathizer. The statement led to a disturbing uproar by Trump’s supporters, with many chanting “Send her back!”
These statements, although under-scrutinized as part of a presidential circus, show how serious a president’s word’s can be. The big question raised is this: Has the United States accepted racism as the new status quo? And what impact do these stereotypes have on perceptions of the U.S. when the president is the one stoking the hatred?
From a news perspective, the statements from Trump and others within his camp have been condemned as racism. Plus, the president’s tweets have simply added color to the news without any real action to be taken.
The North Carolina incident proved that the perpetuation of these stereotypes has in fact polluted the mindset of many Americans. But these are not the first racist comments Trump has made, and they will not be the last. The President of the United States has openly denigrated the African continent and many other places, their peoples, and cultures. That we know as reporters.
Many news outlets including The Guardian, have pointed out that three of the four congresswomen the president mocked were in fact born in the United States, and the fourth, Ilhan Omar, is a war refugee from the African nation of Somalia. Omar has lived almost all of her life in America. She became an American citizen by naturalization. Omar left Somalia in 1991 when the country was in the midst of a brutal civil war. At the age of 12, she was considered a wartime refugee.
But I have to note that the situation in Somalia has not improved much over the years. According to the Human Rights Watch 2019 World Report for Somalia, the country is in a current state of “fighting, insecurity and lack of state protection, and recurring humanitarian crises” that has led to more the 2.7 million displaced individuals.
As a young refugee, Omar, like many of her peers rescued by the United Nations, escaped a dangerous upbringing. Omar settled with family in the U.S. and eventually became a lawmaker in Congress following the 2018 democratic wave that swept many in the GOP out of office.
Yet the congresswoman has not been shown any empathy after escaping the dangerous situation in Somalia.