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Words have impact; Trump’s racist salvos deserved everyone’s quick condemnation

President Donald Trump
REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
President Donald Trump speaking at a campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina, on Wednesday.

President Donald Trump has taken his divide-and-conquer style of politics to a new and deeply disturbing level this past week. Trump’s tweets telling Rep. Ilhan Omar and three other congresswomen of color to go back to where they came from were unequivocally vile and racist. In fact, “Go back to where you came from” is cited as a top example of bigotry by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the government agency responsible for enforcing laws against workplace discrimination.

Right after Trump sent those racist tweets, which he followed up with the false and grotesque claim that Omar supports terrorist organizations, the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party lost no time in condemning the tirade as deeply bigoted. Those attacks went against everything we value as DFLers, Minnesotans, and Americans. When we called on Minnesota Republicans to do the same, each and every one of them refused.

Refusal to stand up only emboldens Trump

Furthermore, when the U.S. House of Representatives voted on whether to officially condemn Trump’s racist remarks, every single Republican representative from Minnesota — Tom Emmer, Pete Stauber, and Jim Hagedorn — voted against it. They unconvincingly tried to couch their moral failure in high-minded language, calling the measure unimportant, a distraction, and political posturing. This craven refusal to stand up to Trump’s racism only emboldened the president to keep his xenophobic attacks going.

Then came the chants.

Chants were no joke

At a rally in North Carolina later in the week, when Trump launched into another factually challenged attack on Omar, the crowd responded, chillingly chanting: “Send her back!” The crowd of Trump supporters, following the president’s lead, were openly calling for the forced deportation of an American citizen and member of Congress with whom they disagreed. Those chants weren’t a joke and they didn’t spring from nowhere. They were a deeply racist, profoundly undemocratic, and genuinely disturbing expression of hatred that directly echoes Donald Trump’s own words.

Ken Martin
Ken Martin
Those calls to “Send [Omar] back” are also the direct result of the Republican Party’s refusal to speak out forcefully against Trump’s racist conduct. Republicans have had ample opportunity to clearly and unequivocally declare that xenophobia has no home in their party, but they refused. Political and moral cowardice brought Republican elected officials to a place where they would rather lend tacit support to the president’s overt racism than risk his ire. Trump, empowered by his party’s silence, continued his bigoted broadsides, culminating in a cacophony of racist chants reminiscent of the white nationalist march on Charlottesville.

This horrifying episode in American politics demonstrates the importance of quickly and directly condemning racism. It seems obvious to the point of banality to say that our president’s words have a serious impact on the American public, but apparently that’s something Republicans need to hear. When Minnesota GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan and our Republican congressional delegation completely ignored Donald Trump’s racist salvos, those sentiments were allowed to spread and grow stronger across our country.

In our politics, it’s important to recognize when we’ve hit bedrock and there’s simply nowhere deeper to go on an issue. The plain truth is that President Donald Trump is a bigot and an agitator; he’s stoking racial tensions for partisan political gain and Republican elected officials are willing and even happy to play along. With that in mind, each and every voter across America must ask themselves, “Is this what I want for the country I love?”

Ken Martin is chair of the DFL Party.


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Comments (21)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/22/2019 - 03:07 pm.

    What amazes me is that Minnesota Republicans who were so quick, so eager even to groundlessly attack the patriotism of our friends and neighbor s from Saint Louis Park, stand so epically silent when a fellow Minnesotan is under racists attack from the president.

    There was a time when Minnesota Republicans stood up for what they believed. What happened?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/22/2019 - 05:39 pm.

      I refuse to rule out the possibility that this is what the Republicans believe. The Party of Lincoln has degenerated into this.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/23/2019 - 08:27 am.

      Mr. Holbrook is correct. The most parsimonious explanation is that this IS what Republicans believe. I think this has been increasingly obvious since the mid 90’s. Let’s not forget that before Emmer, there was Bachmann.

  2. Submitted by Ray J Wallin on 07/22/2019 - 04:55 pm.

    That the head of the DFL would leave out the last part of Trump’s tweet, “and then come back,” shows the political nature of this article.

    Sure, it’s easy for a Democrat like Martin to rip on a Republican president, but what about the racist remarks from his own party? There are plenty. A few days ago, Jesus Garcia accused a former ICE director of not caring about brown children because he is white. That is a racist statement from a US congressman. Is the DFL condemning those remarks as bigoted?

    Trump voters are called racist. People who wear MAGA hats are called racist. People who wear Trump shirts are called racist. Chris Pratt, for wearing a “Don’t tread on me” shirt was called racist. C’mon. It is the racist-of-the-week award. I’m not dismissing Trump’s actions, but when your finger is constantly pointing across the aisle, you lose credibility.

    A solution is to have representatives from each party come together, pick out one GOP and one DFL racist comment, and condemn them. That is a path to ending this nonsense.

    • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/23/2019 - 05:57 am.

      Trump voters are called racist.

      I make an effort not to call Trump voters. I even make an effort not to think Trump voters are racist which is much more difficult. But Trump voters voted for a guy who think President Obama was born in Kenya, and that makes saying and thinking they are not racists really hard.

      Anyone who wants to avoid charges of racism, anyone who wants not to be deplorable, can always avoid saying and doing racist and deplorable things. It’s not even that hard.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/23/2019 - 09:07 am.

      If you act like a racist someone will call you a racist. There may be other racists about, but that doesn’t change or excuse your racism. It’s a free country, you CAN be a bigot of some variety if you want, but you’re not entitled to immunity from recognition, and behavior usually has consequences.

      Recognition of racism doesn’t make recognition an act of racism in and of itself. These attempts at counter-accusations are facile demonstrations of moral vacuity and debate game mentalities. No one else’s immorality can sanction someone else’s immorality. No one else’s bigotry can authorize someone else’s bigotry. Trump has claimed that he is essentially an 11 year old… must all Republicans, conservative, and Trump supporters function on the level of an 11 year old? Those who try to excuse their own behavior by pointing to some else’s behavior are usually moral imbeciles.

      Anyone who thinks that Democrats get a pass on racism or prejudice from liberals is trapped in stereotypical thinking. Episodes with Omar, Biden, and Franken and many others have shown us that many liberals certainly do not practice partisan morality.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/23/2019 - 09:55 am.


      You’re simply mistaken when you claim that people are being called racist simply because of their attire, hat’s t-shirts etc. It’s the behavior not the clothing that earns the distinction. If the clothing become associated with the behavior that’s not someone else’s fault. Sure Trump supporters wear hats and t-shirts, but it was the chanting that earned them their reputation. It’s the calling police on a black child for selling water or using a pool, and “confronting” immigrants in grocery stores, and classifying people of color as criminals while granting white East European models “Genius” Visas, etc. etc. etc.

      Of course we should recognize racism regardless of partisanship, but merely calling someone’s behavior racist doesn’t end racism, leveling the charge at a Republican AND a Democrat won’t settle anything.

      Not to digress but I have to comment on the whole: “Don’t Tread On Me” thing. It’s funny that a bunch of people who literally wear a different flag, a flag that it is frequently interpreted as a challenge to Federal authority; are the self same ones who claim to be the great patriots in the room whenever the pledge of allegiance pops up. Whatever.

      • Submitted by Ray J Wallin on 07/23/2019 - 04:09 pm.

        I am not mistaken. There are plenty of examples of people walking down the street or eating at a restaurant that are harassed and called racist just because they are wearing a Trump t-shirt.

        You even did it in your comment. You tie the “don’t tread on me” shirt to patriots and pledge of allegiance. You don’t know either of those things. Maybe its just a cool shirt. The rest is prejudice.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/23/2019 - 10:32 pm.

          Ray, again, it’s the behavior not the clothing, although clothing can become associated with behavior. We’re not talking about Trump’s tweets because he wears a MAGA hat. We’d be having this conversation even if MAGA hat’s didn’t exist.

          As for “Don’t Tread On Me” I’m referring to personal experience of watching someone who obviously and deliberately wore that shirt to the SLP “protest” regarding the pledge, and called our City Council a bunch of communists, and booed every time anyone mentioned immigrants or diversity. And I’ve seen this before in other venues. I’m not talking about someone who just wears the shirt, I’m talking about people who wear the shirt while pointing rifles at Federal Agents, it’s a direct relationship. That’s not prejudice, it’s simply an observation.

          Again, we’re not complaining about Trump supporters simply because they wear red hats. I’m sure people have been harassed, but again, you play a politics of division and hate, and lock step behind a guy that tweets personal attacks all day- what do you expect?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/23/2019 - 11:03 am.

      “Trump voters are called racist.”

      What do you expect? They are enabling racism. They are supporting a racist. They are minimizing the seriousness of racism by insisting on some farcical “both sides do it game.” Saying that they are not themselves racist sounds awfully feeble at this point.

      “I’m not dismissing Trump’s actions, but . . .”

      The conjunction “but” is a way of negating the previous clause in a sentence.

      ” . . .when your finger is constantly pointing across the aisle, you lose credibility.”

      Credibility with whom? The disciples of the most blatantly racist occupant of the White House since Woodrow Wilson?

      That sounds a lot like you’re dismissing his remarks.

      Let’s remember that Donald Trump is the President of the United States. Yes, he should be held to a higher than some random member of the House of Representatives whose remarks about a former bureaucrat get highlighted by right-wing agitprop outlets. There is nothing unfair or hypocritical about that. He is supposed to be the leader of the entire country, not just the cheerleader for bigots.

      However much it may assuage the tender sensibilities of the MAGA crowd, this isn’t about what “both sides” do. It’s about the President of the United States, and what he’s doing.

  3. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/23/2019 - 09:16 am.

    Make no mistake, these attacks ARE fundamentally racists- why haven’t any white Democrats been asked to go somewhere else? What’s the most obvious difference between Sander’s, Warren, Pelosi, et al , and Omar, AOC, Pressley, and Tlaib? How come no one tells Republicans who constantly complain about taxes, and big government, and “political correctness”, and all the “damage” Obama did that THEY can go somewhere else? Rush Limbaugh has been sitting around bitching about America for decades, why aren’t Republicans reminding HIM he doesn’t have to stay here if he doesn’t like it?

    Emmer has NOT renounced Trump’s racist tweets and remarks. On the contrary, after “saying” there’s no place for them, he went on to repeat them and double down on the rationale behind them. This brings Emmer into the fold of racist Republican behavior.

    Democrats need to step up as well. When Klobuchar was asked about Trump’s racist tweet recently at the Press Club, she declined to simply and unequivocally condemn or repudiate Trump and his tweets. Instead the first sentence out of her mouth was to make sure everyone knows that she ALSO has issues with the “Squad”.

    Just like previous episodes where Democrats BEGAN discussions regarding death threats against Omar with references to manufactured controversy’s, equivocation is unacceptable. One suspects for instance that if Trump directed his ire towards HRC or Walz, Klobuchar wouldn’t have any difficulty beginning her statement with an unequivocal condemnation.

    Frankly, although they weren’t necessarily racist in nature, I don’t think it’s coincidence that Trump’s attack followed on the heels of Pelosi’s attack. Pelosi went outright offense on the “squad” after they refused to sign off on the immigration bill. Instead of discussing the issue’s she went after her own members. I think it’s obvious that Trump saw an opening in that and followed up with his own attack. Once again, the thin veil that hides the outright hostility many Democrats have towards progressives (who are frequently people of color) fell away long to enough to reveal division and possible weakness.

  4. Submitted by Misty Martin on 07/23/2019 - 11:57 am.

    I believe it was at that same rally that President Trump used the Lord’s name in vain. I sincerely hope that all of the evangelicals who are supporting him heard him say those words. I am a follower of Christ, and I do NOT, nor have I ever supported Donald Trump for President, and hearing him utter those words in an utterly needless, boring story he was telling, just thrust a dagger into my heart and confirmed what I had already believed about him. That utterance, after the chant from his supporters “Send Her Back”, just made me sick to my stomach. America is better than this.

  5. Submitted by Tim Smith on 07/23/2019 - 01:34 pm.

    Words really do matter, agreed. When someone disagrees with you and you call them deplorable, a cult, racist, homophobic, white nationalist/supremacist, all about the Benjamin’s, nazi, some people did some things …concentration camp..the list goes on and on. Words spoken by extremists (for the sake of firing up the base no less) really do matter.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/23/2019 - 04:03 pm.

      Deflection is not just obvious, it’s unconvincing.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/23/2019 - 10:50 pm.

      We don’t call people racists simply because we disagree with them, we call them racist when they act like racists. If you act like a Nazi, someone may well call you a Nazi, not because they don’t like you, but because you’re acting like a Nazi. This shouldn’t surprise anyone.

      So yes, it’s deflection to claim that all of this is simply name calling as if racism, nationalism, and deplorable behavior are not legitimate observations. And it’s defection to point to someone else as if your own words matter less because someone else is saying something else.

      People who organize their lives around a bucket full of stereotypes are rarely if ever in a position to recognize or reveal facts and truths, they tend to rely on alternative facts and truths.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 07/24/2019 - 09:24 pm.

      Umm, perhaps instead of “firing up the base”, such statements are made because the speaker actually believes the subject of such statements to be what is described. I for one, believe, through personal interaction over the course of my 40 years, that quite a large percentage of self-described conservatives ARE racists. Nothing that I’ve seen in any of the defenses I read here, or elsewhere, has done anything to disabuse me of that notion. Why would I refrain from stating that which I believe to be true? Why should anyone else, regardless of their position? If conservatives would like to stop being accused of racism, they should stop being racists.

  6. Submitted by David Lundeen on 07/28/2019 - 10:11 am.

    The racism is undeniable. But these statements act as an effective buffer to cover up the administration’s incompetence. Here is how the art of the deal had failed Americans, and he is leaving us with the Trump special (he gets off, while we have to pay the bill)

    1. Farmers: swine flu is decimating production world wide, meanwhile tariffs prevent us from selling hogs, and soybeans to China.
    2. The deficit: tax cuts have only expanded the deficit, and will continue to do so. Trillion dollars for 2019.
    3. Countries around the world know we have no credibility: Saudi Arabia and Kashoggi, Russia, Iran is now closer to building nuclear weapons
    4. Socialism is alive and well: bailouts for farmers, increased defense spending, tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation behind closed doors with only industry representatives giving their input.
    5. Climate change: even farmers in the Midwest with unplanted fields can’t deny it. And the economic impact will only increase.
    6. Three years in and no international agreements have been made on any topic: immigration, nuclear weapons, trade.
    7. The inability to provide any leadership on legislation.

    These are all undeniable aspects of incompetent leadership and examples of how all Americans are being left behind by this administration.

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