House to vote on denouncing Trump’s racist tweets
From left, U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., respond to racist remarks by President Donald Trump during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, July 15, 2019. Trump called for the four Democratic congresswomen of color to go back to their "broken" countries, as he exploited racial divisions once again for political gain. All four congresswomen are American citizens and three of the four were born in the U.S. Omar is the first Somali-American in Congress. | J. Scott Applewhite / AP

WASHINGTON—The Democratic-run U.S. House will vote to denounce Republican President Donald Trump for his racist rants and tweets against four first-year Democratic lawmakers, all women of color. The vote could occur as early as the afternoon of July 16. The denunciation is expected to pass.

Trump, however, could care less—except to use his rants as a political cudgel, trying to tie all Democrats to Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City, Ayanna Presley of Boston, Ilhan Omar of Minneapolis, and Rashida Tlaib of Detroit. In further tweets on July 15-16, he escalated his insults by calling the four “pro-terrorist” and “vile.”

Trump’s rants, raves, and tweets are an obvious attempt to play up to his base, as he gins them up for his 2020 re-election campaign. But they also represent how scared Trump and his class are of exploited people—especially women and people of color—who oppose their agenda.

Demographics scare them: The Census Bureau calculates non-Hispanic whites—the base of Trump’s base—will lose their U.S. majority by 2045. They already have in California, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico, and Hawaii, and ratios in several other states approach majority-minority status, too.

Too, Trump staged his latest tirade against the four progressive lawmakers, known as “The Squad,” at a dog-and-pony-show press conference with a group of corporate leaders to the White House to tout his supposed resurrection of U.S. factories. A few of the moguls were female, all were white and none uttered a peep of protest about Trump’s tweets.

In his first batch of tweets, Trump declared the four lawmakers should, in so many words, “love it or leave it” and suggested they return to their birth countries. Omar is a Somali refugee who fled the war-torn nation with her family when she was a child. She’s a naturalized citizen. The other three are native-born U.S. citizens.

Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib—Congress’s two Democratic Socialists—along with Pressley and Omar responded with their own joint press conference on July 15 where they highlighted their goals and those of the Democratic-run House, and refused to stoop to Trump’s low level. Omar and Tlaib are also Congress’s first two Muslim-American women ever.

“We love all people in this country, and that’s why we believe health care is a human right,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We love all children in this country, and because we do, that’s why we fight for all children through college.”

Trump’s racism led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to announce the upcoming vote in a letter to her colleagues. She also tweeted that what Trump really wants to do is “make American white again.”

“The president went beyond his own low standards using disgraceful language about Members of Congress,” Pelosi wrote all other U.S. representatives. “As I wrote on Twitter yesterday, I reject the president’s xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation. Rather than attack Members of Congress, he should work with us for humane immigration policy that reflects American values.”

“This morning (July 15), the president doubled down on his attacks on our four colleagues suggesting they apologize to him. Let me be clear: Our caucus will continue to forcefully respond to these disgusting attacks.

“The House cannot allow the president’s characterization of immigrants to our country to stand. Our Republican colleagues must join us in condemning the president’s xenophobic tweets,” Pelosi added.

So far, few Republicans have followed that course: Reps. Will Hurd, R-Texas, who represents a U.S.-Mexican border area, and Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Hurd and Scott are the sole African-American Republicans in Congress. Murkowski, who had to win her last term as a write-in independent after the extremist Tea Party beat her in the GOP primary, comes from a state which is 14.2% Native American.

Rep. Justin Amash, Ind-Mich., who left the GOP before being booted out for being insufficiently deferential to Trump, also condemned Trump’s tweets. Amash was ejected after he fully read Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report on Russian pro-Trump manipulation of the 2016 election. Amash concluded Trump obstructed justice in trying to stop Mueller’s investigation.

Omar also noted this isn’t the first time Trump has denigrated and demeaned women and people of color while also praising neo-Nazis. She cited his characterization of African-American athletes as “sons of bitches,” his reference to “shithole countries” of Africa and Latin America, and videotape of his “grab them by the pussy” dehumanization of women.

“This is a president who equated neo-Nazis with those who protest against them,” Omar added. Her reference came on the same day the neo-Nazi who deliberately ran over and killed counter-protester Heather Heyer with his car and injured 35 other people in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 received a second life sentence. The neo-Nazi’s murder of Heyer led to Trump’s glorification of them.

The first two outside criticisms of Trump’s rants, raves, and tweets came from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and People for the American Way. PFAW urged its members to lobby their lawmakers to vote to condemn Trump. The conference, which includes the AFL-CIO, also called out the GOP for its silence. The AFL-CIO and other unions did not immediately comment.

“Trump continues to belittle his office, endangering religious minorities and people of color in the process,” said Leadership Conference CEO Vanita Gupta, the former top civil rights official in Democratic President Barack Obama’s Justice Department.

“From the Muslim ban to family separation, Trump has orchestrated a series of concerted, aggressive actions based in hate and exclusion, including his refusal to condemn white nationalism. Nativism and silencing dissent are the hallmarks of dictatorships, not democracies.”

“As if conducting raids on migrant families were not enough for Trump, he is now attacking citizens serving in elected office with ‘go back to your country’ taunts, capitalizing on racist tropes and endangering people of color. Equally appalling is the silence of members of his own party. By ignoring his overt racism, they not only condone his actions—they enable them.”


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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