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Wed Jul 17, 2019, 04:39 PM

The President vs. The Patriots


July 16, 2019 1:20PM ET
The President vs. The Patriots
Trump’s attack against four progressive Congresswomen was an act of racism, white nationalism — and narcissism.
By Jamil Smith


The one useful thing about this nonsensical episode is that it has brought Trump’s racist standards for citizenship into a new light. Whereas his battle for a citizenship question on the Census or his other battles on behalf of white nationalism may have been more subtle, telling folks to go back to Africa puts it all out there. Jack O’Donnell, who was the former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, told the New York Times on Sunday that “Trump has not only always been a racist, but anyone around him who denies it, is lying.” He added that the president has his own qualifications for who is and is not a United States citizen. “White people are Americans to Trump; everyone else is from somewhere else.”

This is hardly the first time Trump has told someone to leave the country due to disagreement; he did the same to Colin Kaepernick and the NFL players who kneeled during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and other forms of racial injustice. Similarly, a lack of fidelity to Trump amongst champion athletes unwilling to visit the White House, such as Stephen Curry, has earned a rebuke. But even though World Cup hero Megan Rapinoe, a white athlete who joined Kaepernick in taking a knee in 2016, caught hell from Trump for saying that “I’m not going to the fucking White House” before the tournament, he never questioned her Americanness. I wonder white.

Trump would have us believe that we demonstrate love of country by attempting to shame four Congresswomen who have a voice and use it to call out human rights abuses committed on our soil by our government, to say nothing of calling out those crimes against humanity before its deliberative bodies. “We export American exceptionalism,” Omar said last Saturday in Philadelphia. “The Great America. The land of liberty and justice. That is, you know, you ask anybody walking on the side of the street somewhere in the middle of the world, they will tell you: America the Great.

“But we don’t live those values here.”

It would be better if we had a president who I felt didn’t consider me to be a nigger, but that isn’t the case. How do we show that we love America, especially one that would elect Donald Trump? It is difficult to even perform the jingoistic stuff that we were taught as kids: the anthems, the salutes, the waving of the flags. But I hope that that it has been easier in the Trump era for people to get out of bed to do the real work of patriots. There is no love for a country like those who have had to suffer and work for it, and those four Congresswomen all belong to groups that know what it is like to be told that this country does not belong to you. They are being told that lie, all for telling America, and the president who thinks he is America, the truth about themselves.

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