Shortly before heading to a golf club that his company owns on Sunday morning, President Trump lashed out at a group of Democratic lawmakers on Twitter.
Injecting himself into a feud between liberal Democrats new to Congress and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Trump said it was “so interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run.”
“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” he wrote. “Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough.”
“I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!” he added, referring to the tension with Pelosi, a dispute partly rooted in the party’s response to Trump. As The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake wrote, that line suggests strongly to whom Trump is referring in the tweets. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).
The only problem is that Omar’s the only one of the four who has anywhere besides the United States to which she can “go back.”
Omar came here as a child, a refugee of civil war in Somalia, the country where both of her parents and her husband are from. She moved with her family to Minnesota and became a citizen, eventually marrying a British citizen from whom she later separated.
Trump has frequently targeted Omar, calling her unpatriotic and suggesting she should be ousted from Congress. His rhetoric mirrors that of Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, who last week called Omar a “living fire alarm,” on the purported dangers of immigration.
Trump and his allies claim Omar’s criticisms of racial tensions in the United States are tantamount to disloyalty to her adopted home. Telling immigrants to go back where they came from itself has a historical toxicity that’s rooted in race more than origin, a toxicity reflected in the fact that the other three people included in Trump’s disparagement — liberals, feuding with Pelosi, critics of Trump — aren’t even immigrants.
For example, Ocasio-Cortez, the most famous of the four, is from the Bronx. Her mother is from Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory.
In fact, Ocasio-Cortez’s family history is much more American than Trump’s own. His mother was born in Scotland, and two of his three wives are from Southern or Eastern Europe.
As The Post reported earlier this year, Trump’s father, like Ocasio-Cortez, was born in the Bronx. In fact, he was born not far from her district — to immigrant parents.
But Trump has repeatedly insisted his father wasn’t born in the United States, instead having come from Germany. Fred Trump was apparently conceived in Germany, yes, but his place of birth, according to his birth certificate, was on what was then called 177th Street.
Perhaps Trump finds a German origin story more appealing than one that centers on the heavily black and Hispanic borough of New York City. After all, his disparagement of immigrants early last year as coming from “shithole” countries focused on Haiti (awfully close to Puerto Rico!) and Africa but included a lament that more immigrants didn’t come from places like Norway.
Which brings us to Tlaib. Her family and spouse are from the West Bank, but she herself is from Detroit.
Perhaps Trump means she should go back to Detroit and fix it before telling him how he is failing as a president? If so, he’s embarking on a slippery slope because he’s recently complained about the dirtiness of New York and repeatedly disparaged the city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio. If one can’t criticize political opponents until their home turf is running perfectly, Trump might have to resign and seek de Blasio’s position (instead of the opposite, which is de Blasio’s goal).
Then there’s Pressley, whose family is entirely domestic. Unlike Trump, both her parents are from Ohio — a red state, even. Her husband is from Boston.
Where, exactly, should Pressley go back to?
Oh, but we apologize. According to a spokesman for the campaign, Trump didn’t tell the Democrats to “go back” anywhere because he also then said that they should later return to the United States, an obviously sincere addition on the president’s part.
So there you have it! All a big misunderstanding, not at all raising questions about Trump’s views on political opponents who are immigrants or people of color.
correction: We've updated the location of Pressley's father's birth after finding an interview with the representative identifying it as Columbus, not Cincinnati.