A look at the 'squad' that Trump targeted in racist tweets (copy)

From left, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., respond to remarks by President Donald Trump after his call for the four Democratic congresswomen to go back to their "broken" countries, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, July 15, 2019. All are American citizens and three of the four were born in the U.S. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

During this huge dust-up over Donald Trump's insistence that four congresswomen of color go home where they came from because they have criticized America, many are pointing out the irony that Trump was elected mainly by badmouthing America for more than a year.

Indeed, the whole "Make America Great Again" mantra was based on Trump's assertions that the country was in horrible shape. Even during his inauguration speech, he told of failing schools, dilapidated buildings and factories, gangs in Chicago and on and on. That the country had only a few years before gone through a horrible recession on the Republican Party's watch, and now its economy was humming along during Barack Obama's second term, never received a mention.

The way Trump told it, everything was bad or rotten or weak. Sometimes it made you wonder whether we should be heading toward the Mexican border rather than the other way around.

New York Times editorial columnist Charles Blow, who is African-American, insisted that Trump's diatribe aimed at Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — all women of color — was clearly racist.

"The central framing of this kind of thinking is that this is a white country, founded and built by white men, and destined to be maintained as a white country," Blow wrote, adding that people with this kind of viewpoint see black and brown people as deficient.

Chicago Tribune columnist Heidi Stevens pointed out, "we know that the people willing to patiently nudge and loudly prod and tirelessly strive — even when we don’t agree with every word or policy they profess — are the people we need more of, the people we look to for guidance, the people who see both our potential and our historical hunger to reach it."

"So when the president tells our modern-day nudgers, prodders, strivers, 'you can’t leave fast enough,' we know better," Stevens wrote. "History has taught us better."

Stevens added that Trump knows better, too.

"He wouldn’t have run on 'Make America Great Again,' he wouldn’t paint such a dismal portrait of America in his inaugural address, he wouldn’t so frequently and freely exercise his own right to criticize the government if he didn’t recognize that freedom as a fundamental American value," she wrote.

Imagine if Barack Obama had said to Trump during his campaign of belittling America — if things are so bad, why don't you go back to where you came from?

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That's essentially what Trump told these four women of color, even if three were born in the U.S. and the fourth has been a naturalized citizen for decades.

But, the way Trump obviously sees it, you don't tell white people that — only those of color, even if they've been elected to Congress.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com608-252-6410 and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.  

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