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Politicizing Racial and Ethnic Identity in the Age of Trump

On July 16, the House appropriately passed a resolution to condemn President Trump’s tweets targeted towards four Democratic congresswomen of color. In the tweets, the President suggested that the women “go back” to the countries he has insinuated they are from ― a rather dauntless statement to make considering that each woman, minus one, was born on American soil. The recent controversy has not only unraveled the growing partisan tensions in the White House surrounding racial and ethnic diversity, but has further proved the racist nature of President Trump. 

The resolution passed primarily along party lines ― 240 to 187 ― with only four Republicans and one independent, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, joining the Democrats in their condemnation of President Trump’s tweets as racist. The resolution outlined the indignancy rampant in the Age of Trump regarding the comments made against Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), proving that the House, reflective of the American population it is meant to represent, would not stand for Trump’s comments “that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.”

The claim made within the resolution is not particularly out of order. White nationalism has seen itself rise globally, especially in a manner reflective of the political climate, which has continuously utilized race to incite fear amongst the public eye. 

In his online manifesto, the gunman responsible for the Spring massacre in New Zealand directly cited President Trump as an inspiration for his attack, praising him as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” Although not carried out in the United States, the plague of racism holds a stench on President Trump ― one he is unwilling to admit is perpetuated by his words. This is merely exemplary of one incident in which the words of President Trump have been used for violence against minorities. 

In the midst of the storm regarding his tweets, the President has placed himself on the defensive end with a string of tweets alluding to how not racist he is, writing, “I don’t have a racist bone in my body!” It’d be intriguing to observe how often white men lean on this crutch; after being addressed by a multitude of people who find his tweets offensive with many taking to Twitter to share their stories of being told to “go back” to where they “came from,” President Trump refuses to hold himself accountable for the wrong behind his tweets. 

Instead of opening the door for an apology, the President has continued to fire at Democrats and praise his party for standing firm against the vote, stating, “So great to see how unified the Republican Party was on today’s vote concerning statements I made about four Democrat Congresswomen.” It must be misunderstood that this ultimately revealed the inability for the Republican party to transcend partisanship and evolve into admitting that this was a vote based on principle. If anything, the vote showed the unification that trickles in the Democratic Party, who have shown that they will no longer stand for the ignorance that clouds each motion of the President. 

In a protective stance, numerous Republicans have attempted to lessen the impact by brushing the condemnation off as a mere political scheme to slander the reputation of the President. Congressman Dan Meuser, Representative of Pennsylvania’s 9th District, wrote, “Such slander is a disservice to our nation and the American people, and I am tired of it.”

This deflection has been harbored by President Trump as well. He wrote, “The Democrat Congresswomen have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate…,” continuously deeming the four congresswomen as radical, a term often used to demean the image of Progressives. Frankly, dirtying the name of the representatives is hardly covering the bigotry definitive of the Republican party.

The prominent aspect in this controversy is the hypocrisy in President Trump’s anger. No one ever questions his plan to “Make America Great Again,” in which he has often criticized the policies in the nation he believes needs reform. No one ever convinces him that he should return to whichever European nation his descendants are from, nor has he responded to any white critic in the same way that he did to the four minority congresswomen on July 14.

Perhaps his reluctance to do so relies on the subtle fact he seems to forget when dealing with Progressives ― returning to the root of the primary tweets, the criticism held of the American government is a necessary facet of the representatives. There must be change made on American soil. 

Whether or not the vote will essentially convince President Trump that there are stark fallacies in his belief of his tweets not being offensive, hopefully there will be gradual reformation to adhere to the ever-growing diversity in politics. In proclaiming the title of an American, each citizen inherently signed up to be a catalyst for transforming this nation into a place suitable for everyone. For President Trump, that may extend only to the white people of the nation. For everyone else, it includes those often harmed by his rhetoric, kept on the sidelines and convinced that this country does not belong to them.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via FlickrCommons

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