Catching up on Monday’s big news story (which is testament to just how slow a news day it was), I feel I must comment on the brouhaha over President Trump’s weekend tweets and the backlash. I must because some conservative commentators (and of course, all the liberals) are whining that if every conservative public figure doesn’t treat this latest Twitter flame war as a monumentally important mountain upon which to take a moral stand against Trump, then we are silently endorsing racism.
Okay, I’ll start by summing that up in one word that I can use in polite company: “Hooey.”
Here’s a recap of what started it all…
And here’s a report on the poorly-conceived press conference in response…
I’ll spare you Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s typically long-winded and self-righteous thread of tweets lecturing Trump (and us all) about how criticism of her and her colleagues is racist and xenophobic, as if the melanin in your skin acts as a vaccination against criticism of your behavior, comments and ideas. And as if anyone who challenges a minority member's ideas is acting out of racism (a racist claim in itself, in that it assumes their ideas are based solely on their race.) For someone who practically lives on Twitter, she doesn’t seem to grasp that brevity is the point of the medium. But I digress.
Looking over Trump’s initial tweets, what jumps out to me is that he needs a research and writing/editing staff like mine to insure he gets the details right. We live in an age when one tiny mistake is enough of a “hook” for someone to go on a social media tirade. Trump should have been crystal clear in identifying what he meant by going back where they came from and working on the problems there. I’m sure a lot of people wish AOC would go back where she came from, but that simply means to The Bronx, including many Bronx voters who’d prefer a Representative who’s more interested in looking after their interests than in playing Socialist Wonder Woman on the Internet.
In one respect, the “Gang of Four” are right: only one of them is not from the US originally (Ilhan Omar, whose family escaped from war-torn Somalia to the US, yet she can’t seem to think of one positive thing to say about the nation that took her in, saved her family and allowed her to rise to an honored and highly-paid position. But she’s filled with praise for the enemies of the US and our ally Israel -- which was Trump’s point, and it seems to me a legitimate one.) As for the others, if he meant they should go back to their home districts and fix the problems there before they try to remake the entire country, then it’s a reasonable point but he should’ve been clearer and more accurate.
And of course, they all have a First Amendment right to rant ignorantly from their government offices about what a terrible country this is and how it needs to be transformed into a place that even Fidel Castro would think is too far left. But Trump (and all the rest of us) have the same free speech right to tell them they’re full of bovine droppings and should go pound sand without being accused of racism.
Branding someone a “racist” for saying, “If you don’t like it here, go back where you came from” is a kneejerk reaction born of the belief that every policy disagreement is about nothing but “hating dark-skinned people.” I could eat dinner with a lily-white immigrant from France who’s become wealthy here, and if he never stops complaining about America and how his French fries aren’t “really” French, I would probably think, “Then why don’t you just go back where you came from, you pompous ingrate?” I bet you would, too. Just as people in other countries would say the same about American ex-pats who moved to their nations but constantly complained that they weren't like the USA. We likely wouldn’t say it out loud or tweet it, because these days, you get too much grief for saying what you honestly think.
But that’s what Trump did. You may think it should have been phrased more carefully, or maybe not voiced at all. But one reason his supporters like him is that “Emperor’s New Clothes” factor: he dares to say things everyone else is thinking after years of leftist media, activists, schools and politicians haranguing, bullying and brainwashing us that we have to shut up and deny basic truths (gender IS binary, sorry) because it’s better to pretend reality doesn’t exist than to question anyone’s self-delusions.
The Congresswomen Trump criticized (and by the way, he didn’t mention their names in the initial tweets, but they instantly assumed he was talking about them, so doesn’t that kind of prove his point?) have no qualms about making anti-Semitic comments about Jews, badmouthing the nation that’s given them incredible advantages, calling anyone who disagrees with them a white supremacist (even their black colleagues), and comparing overworked border agents to Nazi concentration camp guards. But call them ingrates and you’ve gone over the line, buster!
You can also legitimately accuse Trump of committing the political misstep of taking focus away from his enemies while they were busy destroying themselves. On the other hand, if most Americans agree with what he said (and a recent poll showed Ilhan Omar’s approval rating among swing voters is 9%), maybe he saw the Dems frantically trying to calm and quieten these four would-be queen bees and decided to throw a rock at their bee hive to really stir up trouble.
Establishment Dems such as Nancy Pelosi were desperate to keep these four obviously anti-American radicals from becoming recognized as the faces of the Democratic Party. Now, thanks to Trump, they’re all over the news, lined up shoulder-to-shoulder at an angry press conference like the Mount Rushmore of radicalism, spewing self-righteous blather, patent nonsense and malapropisms laced with foul language, and of course, calling Trump racist. Pelosi spent the past week trying to lock these four in the basement, and Trump just goaded them into breaking out and rampaging all over national television.
What is Pelosi going to do now, elevate their prestige and profiles even more by siding with them to call Trump a racist for criticizing them? Just days ago, they were implying that Pelosi was a racist for criticizing them! Democrats who defended her were saying it was ignorant, juvenile and offensive to throw the race card when you don’t get your way. Even Maureen Dowd at the New York Times wrote, “A.O.C. should consider the possibility that people who disagree with her do not disagree with her color.”
Does that apply only when they do it to fellow Democrats, but when they do it to Trump, we’re supposed to take it seriously? If you think this story harms Trump more than Pelosi by turning the four most toxic, strident, obnoxious, arrogant, off-putting, anti-American Democrats in Congress into the faces of the Party, then you shouldn’t even consider playing poker for a living. And if you think Trump believes this is making swing voters more likely to vote for the Dems, check out his Twitter feed, where he continued poking the donkey all day long after that press conference.
And it worked, as he’s now goaded the House Dems into going on record as rallying around the four horsewomen of their party’s apocalypse.
To sum up: for the record, no, I don’t endorse racism. I often wish Trump would resist the urge to press “send” on Twitter. I also defend everyone’s right to free speech, including those who claim they are criticizing America to improve it. But if all you do is spew anti-American, anti-Semitic rhetoric, call people racists and Nazis, and push insane socialist policies, then I reserve my free speech right to suggest that if you hate this country and love socialism so much, there are flights leaving for Venezuela about every half-hour from DC, if you don’t have access to a government jet. I’m sure there are also plenty of empty houses there for you to move into.
We’ll find out in November 2020 whether most Americans agree with the media and the Democrats that saying something like that is a “racist dog whistle” or think it’s a perfectly reasonable response to unreasonable people.