It is clear from the Trump rally in Greenville, NC, that Trump is hoping to make Rep. Ilhan Omar the face of the Democrats in 2020, and run against her. The strategy itself is grounded in racism and xenophobism.
During President Trump’s Wednesday night rally in Greenville, North Carolina, he took aim at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), one of the Democratic congresswomen of color he told to “go back” to where “they came” from.
“Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds,” the president said.
The MAGA crowd knew just what to do next.
“Send her back! Send her back! Send her back,” the audience chanted as Trump soaked it in for a few moments.
Omar is a United States citizen. She moved from Somalia as a child and gained her citizenship as a teenager.
This is chilling shit. The idiot is going to get people killed. https://t.co/2dNIZzyY75— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) July 18, 2019
Omar responded to the attack on Twitter by quoting Maya Angelou.
You may shoot me with your words,— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) July 18, 2019
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
-Maya Angelou https://t.co/46jcXSXF0B
When this is all over, nobody will admit to ever having supported it— David Frum (@davidfrum) July 18, 2019
While this fight is what Trump wants, it is hard to see how this helps him in 2020, and maybe even his campaign worries about it:
“Republicans want this election to be about the economy and judges. If it’s about Trump’s tweets and temperament, it’s likely that Democrats will have an enthusiasm advantage,” said Alex Conant, a GOP operative who has advised presidential candidates.
Multiple Republicans interviewed for this story declined to speak on the record for fear of angering Trump or causing a problem for their clients.
Granted the protection of anonymity, however, some said the president had committed an egregious, self-inflicted error that could haunt him all the way into next year. A veteran Republican consultant said this latest episode was a bigger political problem for Trump than his controversial response to a violent gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, two summers ago.
“It’s the worst thing he has done,” this GOP insider said. “It’s a blunder and the telling fact that not a single person in the White House has the ability to course correct … and keep it from being a week-long story sets up a terrible narrative.”
Still, the Republicans seem to be willing to go along with it publicly:
It’s unbelievable how Republicans are all feigning outrage that Trump is being accused of racism for making more racist statements. A few years ago, many were correctly calling him a racist bigot themselves! This level of amoral hypocrisy is absurd. pic.twitter.com/6xQZYbXJyv— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) July 17, 2019
Almost every day feels like history is watching – like you have to a pick a side – the past vs the future – racism vs decency – white nationalism vs forming a more perfect union. But today actually is really one of those days. You have to pick a side.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) July 15, 2019
“Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’… must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing – each act is worse than the last, but only a little worse.
You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow.
You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes.
That’s the difficulty. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed.
Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves, when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things your father could never have imagined.”From Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free, The Germans, 1938-45 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955)
UPDATE: Trump disavows the “send her back” chant… At least he seems to have a dim view that he went too far.
Trump said he disavows "send her back" chant last night about Rep. Ilhan Omar. "I was not happy with it. I disagree with it," he said. He was the first person to suggest she "go back" in a Sunday tweet.— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) July 18, 2019
and he again lies about something WHICH IS ON VIDEO…
Trump, asked today in the Oval Office why he didn't stop the "send her back" chants, says: “I think I did, I started speaking very quickly," via @JenniferJJacobs.— Josh Wingrove (@josh_wingrove) July 18, 2019
Says he wasn't happy with the chant, disagrees.
(He stopped speaking for 13 seconds, resumed once chant died down.) https://t.co/YrLYNvrLFx
Asked why his supporters chanted "SEND HER BACK!" Trumps says, "You’d have to ask them." He suggests going to North Carolina to ask them. It came as he was in the middle of going after Rep. Ilhan Omar, an American citizen who was born in Somalia. He listened for 13 seconds.— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) July 18, 2019
I asked Trump if he would be okay with someone telling the First Lady to go back to her country. He did not answer.— Weijia Jiang (@weijia) July 18, 2019
When Trump says it, it's okay. When people repeat his statements, it's not okay. That's some high-end logic pretzel. https://t.co/Pwup8K8gad— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) July 18, 2019
House GOP leaders raised the "send her back" chant at breakfast with VP Pence this morning & cautioned, "we cannot be defined by this," per Rep. Mark Walker, who called it "something that we want to address early" before it becomes a campaign staple like "lock her up"— Julie Davis (@juliehdavis) July 18, 2019