In the face of international condemnation – but very little comment from his own party – Donald Trump returned to the offensive against four Democratic congresswoman he targeted with racial invective on Sunday.
True to provocative form, the president accused the Democrats of “spewing” “racist hatred” – precisely the offence of which he has been widely accused.
In a tweet early on Monday, the president wrote: “When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said. So many people are angry at them [and] their horrible [and] disgusting actions!”
He added: “If Democrats want to unite around the foul language [and] racist hatred spewed from the mouths and actions of these very unpopular [and] unrepresentative Congresswomen, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I can tell you that they have made Israel feel abandoned by the US.”
The tweets reflected others Trump sent late on Sunday amid the storm created by his initial demand that the unnamed congresswomen should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime[-]infested places from which they came”.
The targets of Trump’s ire were Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York; Rashida Tlaib, of Michigan; Ayanna Pressley, of Massachusetts; and Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota.
There was a time Paul Ryan, Lindsey Graham, Nikki Haley, Jeff Flake, even Reince [Priebus] would have denounced this
Charlie Sykes, The Bulwark
None are white, all are critics of Trump and progressives ranged against House speaker Nancy Pelosi in a public fight over the direction of their party. Together, the four women have become known as “the Squad”.
In familiar fashion, Trump’s first tweets, sent perhaps to distract from controversy over squalid conditions at the southern border and certainly in an attempt to drive a wedge into a fissure in the opposition party, were factually inaccurate.
Only Omar was born abroad – in Somalia, coming to America at the age of 12. Ocasio-Cortez is of Puerto Rican heritage and was born in New York. Tlaib’s parents were Palestinian immigrants who settled in Detroit. Pressley is African American and was born in Cincinnati.
Omar and Tlaib were the first Muslim women elected to Congress. On Sunday Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said: “If Trump shouted the same thing at a Muslim woman wearing hijab in a Walmart, he might be arrested.”
Ocasio-Cortez is a prominent advocate of policies such as the Green New Deal which have made her a hate figure on Fox News and among Trump’s base. Pressley has been prominent in criticism of the Trump administration over the border crisis.
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