Leaders within the federal government who have so far refused to condemn or call out President Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric directed toward four congresswomen of color over the past ten days risk “normalizing hate” within society, according to a civil and human rights advocate.
Speaking to CNN via email, Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, explained why it was important for leaders to speak out, and speak loudly, on the president’s words.
“Those in positions of power have a responsibility to speak out against hateful rhetoric that does tangible harm to our most marginalized communities,” Gupta said. “Anything less than wholesale public condemnation of hate speech — especially stemming from our own government — is a dereliction of our duty as Americans.”
In a tweet he made two weekends ago, Trump decried the criticisms that four lawmakers — Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley — had made against societal ills in the U.S. and against the president himself. Within those tweets, Trump had told all four of those lawmakers to “go back” to their countries of origin to fix the problems there first, rather than complain about problems in this country.
Many were outraged at Trump’s comments, which some accused of being racist. The phrase “go back to your country” is a recognized trope against people of color, and the fact that three of the four lawmakers were born in the U.S. demonstrated to some that the president was displaying bigoted views toward the women.
TODAY: President Trump prolonged his feud with four Democratic congresswomen of color by calling them “a very Racist group of troublemakers" in a Monday morning tweethttps://t.co/WAPD3ELwf4 pic.twitter.com/yUlpxYZS96
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) July 22, 2019
Trump has denied he was racist in his attacks against the women, claiming in a separate tweet later in the week that he doesn’t “have a racist bone in [his] body,” according to previous reporting from HillReporter.com.
Trump’s words, however, would be recognized as racist in other workplaces. According to federal guidelines crafted by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the phrase that Trump said in his tweets on July 14 is used as a direct example of racist behavior that an employer could use against people of color.
“Examples of potentially unlawful conduct include insults, taunting, or ethnic epithets, such as making fun of a person’s foreign accent or comments like, ‘Go back to where you came from,’ whether made by supervisors or co-workers,” the EEOC website says.
Trump continued his attacks against the women into this week, NBC News reported. On Monday, he penned a new tweet, arguing that the women he was attacking were themselves racist and “troublemakers.” He also said that they were “not very smart” and “inexperienced” lawmakers.