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Trump’s Attacks on Rep. Omar Expose an Ugly – and Unpopular – Worldview

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A Majority of Americans Reject Trump’s Dark and Scared Vision of Our Nation

Last night, during a campaign rally near Pittsburgh, President Trump said the following of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN):

How about Omar of Minnesota … She’s telling us how to run our country. How did you do where you came from? How’s your country doing? She’s going to tell us — she’s telling us how to run our country.”

His comments follow those from a Minnesota rally last week, when Trump said that Joe Biden wanted to “turn Minnesota into a refugee camp” and bragged about his deportation of Somalis, saying, “These hardened criminals are back in their country where they can do all the complaining they want and your families are safer for it.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice: 

Trump’s long descent into darkness started when he stepped onto the escalator in New York in 2015. He’s never stopped descending since. And he’s trying to take America with him. In Trump’s world, there are the white people with ‘good genes’ and then there’s the non-white other. This kind of rhetoric is to the right of segregationist George Wallace.

The good news is this: Trump’s reliance on racism and xenophobia is not working, it hasn’t worked in recent years, and, we predict it won’t work in 2020.

Rep. Omar and her family are an American success story, full stop. They fled war in Somalia and spent several years in a Kenyan refugee camp before being granted asylum in America. She arrived in the U.S. at age 13, became an American citizen at 18, and became the first Somali-American elected to a state legislature and then the first Somali-American Member of Congress. She was duly elected by the citizens of her district. This is an inspiring story that all Americans should be proud of.

But Trump and his Republican allies seem to think that naked appeals to white grievance is the best way to hold onto power. They are wrong. His presidency has forced a reckoning in America on racism and xenophobia. And Americans have chosen. The majority believe racism is a challenge that must be dealt with, sympathize with the Black Lives Matter movement, believe immigrants benefit the nation, and oppose Trump’s cruelty towards immigrants and refugees. Electorally, in tight election races from 2017 through 2019, Trump and the GOP have gone there, fueling racial animus in a desperate attempt to win. In most cases, this reliance on racism and xenophobia has failed and, in many cases, backfired (see here for more). 

Our country is a stronger country because stories like those of Rep. Omar, Barack Obama and Kamala Harris are possible here. Indeed, millions of us along with our friends and neighbors and classmates and co-workers have our own version of this story. We know that our country is strengthened, not threatened, by inclusion and pluralism in the context of shared ideals. 

Trump and the GOP may continue down the escalator of rank racism and dog-whistle xenophobia, but the majority of Americans are not going with them. They will learn this lesson the hard way this November.