This morning, Trump is doubling down on his attacks on four Congresswomen who he suggested should “go back” to their country yesterday, tweeting:
“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 & their horrible & disgusting actions!”
This sounds like a lot of projection to me, and it’s awfully goddamn rich of the President to call upon them to apologize after he told them to “go back” to their countries, which should be a line that is uncrossable in America, where everyone — except for the Native American population we wiped out — hails from another country.
Before we move on, let me back up a quick second and talk about something else. Yesterday, after Trump made his “go back” comments, I was initially going to save it until this morning to talk about because I had two kids at home with strep and my wife was at a work event, so I was in no place to talk at length about it because the kids needed their Gatorade and antibiotics and a fan and a blanket and their Tylenol and food they weren’t going to touch. Then I saw this tweet from Sopan Deb, and I thought, I better get something out now:
crazy thing is that by Monday we’ll have moved on to some other fire alarm and we will totally forget that a sitting president publicly told people of color (and u.s. citizens) that they should go back to their countries— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) July 14, 2019
In my haste to get something up, I didn’t give it a lot of thought. I mostly followed the flow of Twitter reactions wherever they took me. There were a lot of tweets taking issue with Nancy Pelosi and her supposed role in Trump’s tweets, and I embedded a couple, and the commentariat here fairly took issue with that because the way I had framed those tweets made it look as though I thought Pelosi was responsible for Trump’s racism. That was bad, and holy shit, not what I meant, but I totally understand why readers would think I meant that because that’s what it looked like. That was my 100 percent fault.
Let me be clear: Ain’t no woman responsible for Donald Trump’s racism except his Momma. What Trump said yesterday — and doubled down on this morning — was vile, reprehensible, and disgusting. Nancy Pelosi is in no way responsible for the monster that Donald Trump is in his life.
I am also not going to say that Nancy Pelosi put a target for Trump’s racism on AOC, Ilhan, Pressley, and Tlaib’s backs, because he was already spitting his racist bullshit at them long before Pelosi started attacking them (he’s gone after Ilhan Omar a number of times, already), but I will say this: Pelosi has absolutely not had their backs. She’s spent months alienating those four Congresswomen, and she ratcheted it up in the week ahead of Trump’s tweets with that terrible Maureen O’Dowd interview. Far from showing support for them, Pelosi basically said herself that she’s trying to push them into a corner and tie them off from the rest of the Democratic party. When Trump told the women of color that Pelosi had alienated from the rest of her party to “go back” to their countries, Pelosi’s response was, uh, politically diplomatic. She called Trump out for his racism:
When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to “Make America Great Again” has always been about making America white again.— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) July 14, 2019
Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power. https://t.co/ODqqHneyES
But she also sought to appeal to moderates by suggesting that she would work with the Racist in Chief in a very Joe-Biden-worked-with-white-supemacists kind of way:
I reject @realDonaldTrump’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. Stop the raids - #FamiliesBelongTogether!— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) July 14, 2019
Maybe Pelosi should join Susan Collins and write a sternly worded email she will keep in her drafts folder.
But look: Pelosi is in something of a no-win situation. AOC, Omar, Pressley, and Tlaib are getting a lot of attention, and Republicans are trying to define the entire party by their politics. Meanwhile, Pelosi is trying to keep her majority together and that majority is heavily dependent upon a lot of Democrats winning in purple districts in 2018. Obviously, we all want Pelosi to hang on to the majority. But many of us also stand by the positions of AOC et. al.
I’m not entirely sure how you deal with that particular pickle, but alienating a wing of the party with which not only do a lot of Democrats identity but also look to as inspiration is not the way to do it. I mean, Christ: Those four women have given voice to a lot — millions — who never felt like they had a voice in the process before. Freezing them out is not how you show support.
Look: We’re a progressive website here at Pajiba, but we have our own “radical wing,” so to speak, and the last thing I would want to do is silence them or alienate them. I don’t personally always agree with them — I’m more of a reform the system from within rather than destroy and rebuild the system from scratch kind of person — but I love those voices. I appreciate those voices. There are a lot of people who agree with them, and there are a lot of people — like me — who need to hear those viewpoints, even if we do not necessarily agree with them completely. Likewise, AOC et. al have hugely important voices and hugely important constituencies both within their district and in broader America. If you live in Virginia or Indianapolis, you don’t have to agree with them, but also, you don’t have to vote for them, but I bet they’ve also pushed your moderate representatives a little more to the left in ways that you appreciate, and that may make you more enthusiastic about voting for them.
In short: They’re good for the party. Pelosi doesn’t have to embrace all of their policies, but she should be embracing the women who voice those policies because they represent the core values of the party: Inclusion, diversity, spreading the wealth, helping others. We are all the Squad!
Whether they agree with their specific policies or not, I do hope that the entire Democratic party rallies around AOC, Tlaib, Omar, and Pressley. Likewise, Pelosi is not responsible for Trump’s bad actions, but she is partially responsible for how we respond, and condescendingly dismissing them as “the squad with their little Twitter following” is not the way to unite the party. In the face of this onslaught of hate and racism — and the total silence of the Republican party — we’ve never needed to be more united.
Of course, that’s not all on Pelosi, either. Where the hell were you yesterday, Chuck?
My grandson Noah took my glasses!— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) July 14, 2019
First, ‘Goodnight Moon’.
Next, the Congressional Record! pic.twitter.com/XUgqumiwdE
Oh, my bad. Maybe hand your seat over to your grandson now, Chuck. He couldn’t be any less effective. Democrats shouldn’t leave AOC to fight this battle alone:
It’s important to note that the President’s words yday, telling four American Congresswomen of color “go back to your own country,” is hallmark language of white supremacists.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 15, 2019
Trump feels comfortable leading the GOP into outright racism, and that should concern all Americans.
Until Republican officials denounce yesterday’s explicitly racist statements (which should be easy!), we sadly have no choice but to assume they condone it.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 15, 2019
It is extremely disturbing that the *entire* GOP caucus is silent. Is this their agenda? https://t.co/NXIUiPAPls