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Bill Straub: Trump doubles down on congresswomen of color who ARE already where they belong


“This country is a hellhole. We are going down fast.”
— Donald J. Trump, Fox News, May 20, 2015

Enough.

Enough already.

President Donald J. Trump, better known in these parts as President Extremely Stable Genius, appears to be morphing into Lester Maddox, telling a quartet of progressive Democratic congresswomen with darker skin than his own that they should return to whence they came if they don’t approve of what’s occurring on these shores.

It all began with a series of tweets – how else is a president supposed to make his thoughts known? – beginning on July 14 when, out of the blue, he wrote,

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly…… .and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how.”

Three of the four referenced lawmakers — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-MA, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-MI – were born here in the good, ol’ USA, so it’s rather confusing trying to figure out where our president suggests they go home to. The fourth, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-MN, was born in Somalia, became a naturalized citizen at a young age and is every bit as American as our tangerine-skinned president.

And it should be noted, as elected members of the House of Representatives, they are already involved in saying “how our government is to be run.” It’s their job.

The whole thing was an embarrassment and naturally created an ado. Telling young women of color to leave and not darken the nation’s door because they happen to think the Extremely Stable Genius is a fraud, a nincompoop, a cheap chiseler and a danger to one and all bespeaks of racism, and more than just a little bit of sexism.

It’s no surprise. Trump’s history is littered with racist actions and comments, ranging from efforts to keep African-Americans from purchasing an apartment in one of his New York developments to accusing former President Barack Obama of being born in Kenya. As for misogyny, let’s not raise the gross Access Hollywood tape again. But seldom is he so overt in his contempt for those who don’t share his white skin, his gender and therefore his privileged authority.

Rather than acknowledge his misstep and apologize for, if nothing else, questioning the women’s American heritage, ol’ ESG did what he always does when he steps in it – he doubled down.

“These are people who in my opinion hate our country,” Trump said at a White House event. “All I’m saying is, if they’re not happy here, they can leave. There will be many people who will be happy.”

Stop. Just stop.

It wasn’t these four congresswomen who called America a “hellhole,” it was Donald J. Trump. Yet these women “hate America,” in Trump’s estimation, because they oppose him and every rotten thing he stands for and, unlike others, they’re brave enough to stand up to him. It’s not enough for him to oppose these women based on their proposed political remedies, he has to make “them” different, foreign, not like us good white folks.

It’s obvious from all this that, in viciously attacking these young, non-white women, that Trump is using race as his hole card. And if that’s not the actions of a racist, what is?

Still, there are sycophants, apologists, and enablers ever willing to defend the indefensible when it comes to Trump. Senate Republican Leader Mitch “Root-‘n-Branch” McConnell, of Louisville, exhibiting the moral courage and leadership for which he has become renowned, tut-tutted any suggestion that ESG is a racist while simultaneously dodging questions about how he would react if someone suggested his own Taiwan-born wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, a naturalized American citizen at age 19, was told to go back where she came from.

And then there is Rep. James Comer, R-Tompkinsville, who told Judy Woodruff on the PBS NewsHour that, “I certainly do not think the president’s a racist.”

“I believe the president shares a lot of Americans’ frustration with Congress, particularly those four women congressman who, for no other reason, constantly criticizes not only the president, but also Congress and our country,’’ Comer said.

Comer, like most congressional Republicans, is being intentionally obtuse about Trump’s racist predilections. If the president was caught lighting a cross on the front lawn of an African-American family’s home, Comer likely would suggest he was simply inviting them to a wienie roast.

Only four Republican House members, along with Rep. Justin Amash, I-MI, a former member of the GOP caucus, voted with Democrats this week to condemn Trump’s racist tweets, a stark example of where this nation is right now.

Perhaps it has always been a fanciful notion, but there once was the sentimental thought that one of the most important jobs facing a president was to bring the country together united as one. That no matter one’s color, creed or background, America is stronger when it’s united rather than when it is separated.

Trump has blown that concept to smithereens in just three short years. He is intentionally practicing the politics of divisiveness, degrading those who favor a different path rather than viewing them as members of the loyal opposition. To Trump, being an American is determined in inverse proportion to the amount of melanin found in one’s skin. In this instance, he is using race to further curry favor with those seeking to maintain the status quo of white privilege.

And he is beloved by a certain segment of the population for doing just that and for “speaking his mind.” Well, Hitler spoke his mind. He even wrote a book about it. Stalin offered his thoughts and they resulted in the deaths of millions of Russians.

A reckoning is on the horizon. One would think, in the year 2019, after all the nation has been through, that the idea of a racist serving as president of the United States of America would prove revolting to the population, that an individual espousing those views has no business serving atop the country’s political ladder.

Yet there are millions who pledge allegiance these days not to the United State of America but to the United States of Trump, not a majority, perhaps, but enough to send shivers down the spines of those who continue to dream of a better place. To this day, I remain dumbfounded that my country chose this sort of individual as its leader with the possibility that the catastrophe could repeat itself again next year and carry on for four years after that.

Some time ago, the late Frank Capra, the famous director whose films include It’s a Wonderful Life, was talking about arriving in the US for the first time from his native Italy, and how his father brought him to the top deck as the ship as it pulled into New York Harbor.

Capra remembered his father shouting, “Chico, look at that! See that light?”

It was the torch of the Statue of Liberty.

“My Father cried, ‘That’s the greatest light since the Star of Bethlehem.’”

That light has dimmed considerably under the administration of Donald J. Trump. It’s time to turn it back on.

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Clyde Middleton

A word about Clyde Middleton, who served Northern Kentucky with honor and distinction as a state senator and, later, as Kenton County judge-executive, who died last week at the age of 91.

Clyde, a Republican from Ft. Mitchell, was a public servant in the best sense. He worked as hard as anyone to make Northern Kentucky a better place and always did his duty with a smile on his face and a kind word.

He was, for many years, Mr. Republican in Kenton County with his late, dear wife, Mary, who helped build the GOP into the force it remains today.

A good man who will be missed.

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NKyTribune’s Washington columnist Bill Straub served 11 years as the Frankfort Bureau chief for The Kentucky Post. He also is the former White House/political correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service. A member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, he currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, and writes frequently about the federal government and politics. Email him at williamgstraub@gmail.com.


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