In his latest Twitter assault, Pres. Trump again targeted ‘The Squad’ (two of whose members are Muslim-American and two of whom are Black), the progressive Congressional women of color. His comments have taken an even more ugly twist in the past few hours, as he’s targeted Rep. Ilhan Omar claiming that she is anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and that she supports al Qaeda. Here’s what he said about the Minnesota Representative:
“If somebody has a problem with our country, if somebody doesn’t want to be in our country, they should leave,” he said. “Let me just tell you, when you look at her statements about al Qaeda, when you look at her statements about people…”
“I don’t know who’s going to miss them, but maybe somebody will,” Trump said after the event, again indicating Omar prefers al Qeada [sic] over the United States…He blasted Omar for “being from Somalia,” contending she “hates Jews” and “loves al Qaeda….and [that] “these are people who hate our country,”
When asked if there have been any internal discussions in the West Wing about taking steps to ensure Omar’s safety, a White House official replied, “I’ll get back to you.”
American Jews have struck back, claiming that Trump is weaponizing Israel in a fight that should be restricted to solely domestic politics:
I have been pretty polite about this and so have other American Jews. But you really have to leave us out of your racist talking points. You are not helping us, you are not helping society, you are not helping Israel. Your racism is your thing and we are not your shield.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) July 15, 2019
It is sad that no major national Jewish leaders have yet denounced this repulsive rhetoric. What pray, are they waiting for? The impact of Trump’s attacks endanger not only the Congress members targeted, but will further distance Americans who reject such smear politics, from Israel.
It goes without saying that no Israeli leader would weigh in on this matter. After all, Netanyahu just met with a Ukrainian delegation that included an avowed neo-Nazi, and Yair “Baby Bibi” Netanyahu just tweeted support for British Islamophobe neo-Nazi, Tommy Robinson. Israel is well on its way to becoming the very thing we were all taught to hate in Hebrew school: fascists and Nazis.
The similarity of Trump’s rhetoric–demanding that the Women of Color “go back where they came from”–to Nazi ideology is shocking. The latter viewed Jews as an alien species implanted in Europe’s body politic. It blamed them for filth and disease and excoriated their heritage and traditions as corrupt. This rhetoric is a direct echo:
Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.
Not to mention his earlier reference to (Black) African nations, in one of which Omar was born, as “shithole countries.”
Before Hitler settled on the Final Solution, Nazis like Eichmann considered mass emigration to Palestine as a suitable resolution of the “Jewish Problem.” The eventual architect of Nazi genocide said, in the 1930s, that if he were a Jew he too would be a Zionist. He, like Trump regarding “The Squad,” wanted Jews to go back to their “home”…in Palestine.
Trump’s assault contains striking echoes of the Nazi quest for racial purity, in which foreign blood was viewed as polluting the Aryan race. Many commentators have noted the president’s affinity for white supremacist and neo-Nazi ideology. In this, he follows closely Nazi thinking.
Trump’s grandfather was from Germany. Yet no one tells him to go back to his country if he doesn’t like the rest of us (as appears clear). Of course, that’s because he’s white and America was made for white folk. Anyone else is here by the grace of the rest of us white folk (or so goes the thinking in that addled brain of his). And while we’re at it, let’s send Melania back to her country. What a nerve to think she deserves the same rights as native-born birth citizens, Rashida Tlaib or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez!
All this is not very far from the attitude of many Israeli Jews toward the Palestinian minority. You regularly hear right-wing Israelis say that if Palestinians don’t like Israel they should leave. Leave a country their indigenous ancestors lived in continuously far longer than almost all Jewish Israelis’ ancestors.
Yesterday, when I first heard of all this lunacy, my first response was to urge Tlaib and Omar to tell Trump defiantly, in the words of Bob Dylan’s With God on Our Side: “the country I come from is called the Midwest.”
Don’t Let Pelosi Off the Hook
Further, though Speaker Pelosi has proposed a Congressional resolution criticizing Trump for his attacks, her latest statements belie the hypocrisy of her position. It was she who commenced the attacks on the Women of Color with statements the targeted individuals called racist, when she demanded that they stop using social media to criticize party leaders like her. Pelosi also demeaned the members when she falsely claimed they had no support in Congress beyond their own four votes.
The following day Trump excoriated Pelosi’s targets and reminded them to defer to their “betters.” He told them they ought to heed Pelosi. He came to the speaker’s defense. It was only after Trump’s unprecedented venom that Pelosi realized she had to back off her previous attacks. She also understood that Trump’s racism could benefit her and possibly restore unity in the Democratic caucus. But her strategy will not work. No one is fooled by it. She’s let the horse out of the barn. No sense trying to lock it now.
Some op-ed columnists like E.J. Dione have pleaded for comity among Democrats. They try to remind us that the real enemy is Donald Trump, not ourselves. But this ignores the very real struggle within the Democratic Party, which began with Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential candidacy. It is a struggle to instill a true progressive agenda in the Party. To endorse Medicare for all, subsidized college education, a living hourly wage for all, immigration reform, gun control, battle climate change, etc. These are issues which divide Democrats and which it is critical to debate. Those candidates who are reluctant to endorse such an agenda do not deserve support, whether they’re running for president or Congress.
Saying that we should hold these arguments in abeyance till we beat Trump is putting the cart before the horse. If the Democratic Party has a milquetoast platform no one will be energized to go out and vote for its candidates. As an example, if the nominating convention chooses Joe Biden, there will be no enthusiasm for his candidacy. The Party will be running a male version of Hillary Clinton. If Biden wins (a prospect by no means guaranteed), the race will be exceedingly close for this reason.
Then, what will Biden do as president? What will his agenda be? Half measures and palliatives. He will cater to the corporate interests of Wall Street and Big Business. Who will that inspire?
Contrary to the view of Pelosi, The Squad won elections. It electrified its constituencies. It drew new young voters into the fold. It could do the same if its agenda was embraced rather than shunned. The Democratic Dinosaurs should take notice. They will either embrace the New or it will sweep them out of its way. Her time has come and gone. Time to bring new blood into the Party and its leadership.