Friday, July 19, 2024

Trump’s “Go Back” tweets sound all too familiar to minority members of Congress

President Trump insists he wasn’t being racist when he told four minority congresswomen who’ve had the audacity to criticize him to “go back” to the countries from which they came.

“Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” Trump insisted yesterday. Three of the four Democratic lawmakers were born in this country, and the other came from Somalia when she was 12 years old – all of them are U.S. citizens.

HuffPost spoke with dozens of members of Congress about whether someone has ever told them what Trump told Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.). Nearly every minority lawmaker said yes, while every white lawmaker said no.

“I’ve been told many times to ‘go back to China,’ even though I’m of Japanese descent, because people are prone to stereotypes,” Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) said. “Way, way back when, somebody yelled that. Not lately,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). “However, the president seems to be resurrecting that.”

Some Republican members said they have heard the slur as well. In 2016, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whose family also came to the U.S. from Cuba, recounted that when he was seven, kids would taunt him by saying, “Why don’t you go back on your boat, why don’t you go back to your country, why don’t you leave here?” “I’ve had a gazillion things happen to me. I’ve had a gazillion things said to me,” added Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.), who is also of Cuban descent.

White lawmakers, not surprisingly, said they hadn’t faced assumptions throughout their lives that they were from another country. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.): “Nobody has ever told me that” and Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.): “It’s really odd, especially when you’re an American. Americans going back to where you came from, is like your city you were born in, you know. So that made no sense to me.”

Many white lawmakers, however, said they knew that their parents had heard similar “go home” slurs when they were younger. Immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Italy and other European countries ― once considered part of the “other” ― did face these taunts.