Photo: roya ann miller on Unsplash
It is an unwritten rule whenever a person of color seeks to challenge the status quo, their opponents will tell them to “go home.” Their crude message being, if you want to change America, you do not love it, and if you do not love America, you should leave, as you were never really an ‘American’ anyway.
On July 14, President Trump tweeted that four Congresswomen, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), should “go back” to the countries they “originally came from.” All four of those targeted are women of color. Of the four, all of whom are US Citizens, only Omar was not born in the United States, as she fled from Somalia with her family when she was a child. These four women have been known to attract the public eye due to their support for radical policies, such as Medicare for All, and a Green New Deal.
At a rally on Sunday, July 17, this America “loving” rhetoric reached a new group: the President of the United States’ supporters. The President referred to these women as “hate-filled extremists” and said “if you don’t like it, let ‘em leave, let ‘em leave”. As President Trump proceeded to vilify the Congresswomen, the crowd became ever more restless, and when the President attacked Rep. Omar, the crowd started chanting “Send her back! Send her back!” Since the rally on Sunday, Trump has taken to Twitter to reject responsibility for the chant, refuse to condemn it, call the Congresswomen racist, and claim that they do not love the United States.
The outrage in response has not just been focused on the racist chants and the hatred behind it. There is a lot of concern about the danger that the four women, especially Rep. Omar, may now be in as a result. By directing the attention of a crowd of angry people, President Trump has put these four women in the spotlight for a dangerous amount of negative attention. At least one of them, Alexandria Ocazio-Cortez, has already received a death threat.
President Trump and his allies are shrugging off the chants by saying those at the rally were being patriotic and that they just love their country. Does it make you a patriot to tell women of color that they should leave their country, America, just because they disagree with the policies of the present administration? America is a country that was founded on the idea that all ideas are valuable, that people should be free to share their theories for progress with their fellow citizens. The Statue of Liberty is engraved with “bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” and if that is a motto the United States follows, there should be no chants of “send her back.”
Patriotism should be based on cherishing the ideals that the country was founded on. Yet, as of late, it looks as if some are protesting our own foundations with racist rhetoric such as “send her back.” If those chanting that were true patriots, would they not respect the four women and their desire to make America better? What was demonstrated at the Trump rally was not patriotism at all, it was racism, xenophobia, hate, and fear. The desire to keep the country the same is not loving America, quite the opposite. The United States has been home to many great people who have changed so much for the better. To continue with that tradition, the four women verbally attacked at Trump’s rally should be celebrated and respected, not faced with an onslaught of racism.
Elizabeth Coleman is a passionate writer from Massachusetts. She is twenty three years old and is currently working on her MS from Nova Southeastern University in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. She graduated last year from Keene State College with two BAs, one in Holocaust and Genocide Studies with a minor in history and the other in Criminal Justice Studies. Elizabeth loves to read, but her all time favorite book would have to be "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. In five years, Elizabeth hopes to be investigating extremism and hate groups in the United States. Elizabeth steps up for justice, equality, and making the world a bit better for everyone.