Did President Trump’s tweets telling four Democratic Congresswomen to “go back” where they came from represent a “new low” for his rhetoric on race? Certainly many people who have decried those statements have said so. Witness Rep. Jim McGovern (R-Mass.):
And while he didn’t use that phrase exactly, George T. Conway III, the conservative attorney and husband of counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that the tweets crossed a threshold that allowed him to clearly use the label “racist.”
“I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” Trump proclaimed Tuesday on Twitter. But for years, he’s been espousing language and ideas in line with the tweets he directed at the four members of Congress, all of whom are U.S. citizens and three of whom were born in the United States. He has many times indicated, or flat-out said, that the United States has no room for people who disagree with him, especially people of color.
Here are a few groups Trump has suggested should not be in the country.
1. NFL players who protest during the national anthem
In September 2017, Trump reignited a then-dormant controversy over American football players who chose to kneel during the singing of the national anthem. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!'" Trump said.
Months later, Trump told Fox News that NFL players who do not stand proudly for “The Star-Spangled Banner” should probably not be in the country: “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem. You shouldn’t be playing; you shouldn’t be there. Maybe they shouldn’t be in the country,” he said.
2. Black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean
In January 2018, Trump expressed his frustration about the United States welcoming immigrants from countries with large black populations.
Lawmakers presented Trump with a bipartisan plan that involved cutting the visa lottery in half. One part of the proposal, supported by the Congressional Black Caucus, recommended that the remaining visas go to underrepresented countries in Africa as well as Temporary Protective Status nations, such as Haiti.
The Post reported that Trump asked in that meeting: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
“Why do we need more Haitians?” Trump added. “Take them out.”
Trump suggested that the United States bring in more people from countries such as Norway instead.
3. Muslims who want to come here
Following a 2015 mass shooting in Southern California believed to have been inspired by the Islamic State, then-candidate Trump called for greater scrutiny of Muslims — including Muslim Americans who are legal residents of the country.
Trump called for keeping all Muslims from entering America. At a campaign rally in South Carolina, the candidate said: “Donald Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
Trump’s then-campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, told the Associated Press that the ban would apply to “everybody,” including immigrants and tourists.
One could argue that calling for elected representatives, all of whom are minorities, to go back to countries they aren’t actually from is more blatantly problematic than the previous examples. But they are certainly part of a pattern for Trump, setting a standard for removal he doesn’t seem to apply to white people.