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Trump’s "Go Back" Racist Epithet; Oh, So Familiar

Trump has dived deep into the septic tank before. But, folks, this is truly a new low

"You know how these people lie!" 12 Angry Men (1957). (Photo: Screengrab)

"You know how these people lie!" 12 Angry Men (1957). (Photo: Screengrab) 

white person telling a person of color to “go back” to where they came from (usually Africa) is, unfortunately, as common as it is racist.

It’s also such a dumb thing to say—especially in a nation where the majority of us came from somewhere else. It’s an epithet that often issues from the lips of knuckle-draggers who can’t think of a more subtle way to spew their racism.

In the years prior to Hitler’s “Final Solution,” his first solution was to tell Germany’s Jewish population to go back to their “home” country.

Israel? Umm, no. Nazis being Nazis, they held tight to the (incorrect) theory that Jews originated from the island of . . . drum roll please . . . Madagascar!

Nazis held tight to the (incorrect) theory that Jews originated from the island of . . . drum roll please . . . Madagascar.

Now we have the President of the United States joining in the fun. The same weekend that Donald Trump had scheduled wholesale deportation raids of thousands of undocumented immigrants, he tweeted that four “Democrat Congresswomen” should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” He added that, as far as he was concerned, they “can't leave fast enough.”

In fact, three of the four Congresswomen—Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts—were born and raised in the United States. The fourth—Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, born in Somalia—is like the others an American citizen. Literally the only thing that distinguishes them from others in Congress is their non-whiteness, making Trump’s racist intention perfectly clear.

Sure, Trump has dived deep into the septic tank before—leading the birther nonsense, calling white supremacists “good people,” declining to condemn the KKK, and intentionally conflating Hispanic immigrants with violent criminals. But, folks, this is truly a new low.

I was reminded of the famous jury deliberation scene in 12 Angry Men in which, after two hours of dropping hints, Ed Bagley’s character suddenly explodes in an unequivocally racist rant, exclaiming, “They’re no good, there’s not a one of them that’s any good!” As Bagley continues to spew, each juror gets up and slowly turns away in repulsion, until Henry Fonda’s character famously says, “Sit down and don’t open your mouth again.”

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Unfortunately, there are no fellow jurors turning their back on Trump or demanding that he shut up. Most Republicans in Congress could muster nary a peep of protest over the President’s remarks. Virtually the sole exception was Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who, in an interview on Fox News, offered this tepid response:

“We all know that A.O.C. and this crowd are a bunch of communists. They hate Israel, they hate our own country.” But, he went on to allow, the four “are American citizens” who “won an election.”

With defenders like these, who needs racist Presidents?

With defenders like these, who needs racist Presidents?

We’d all like to believe that if John McCain was still around, he might be the “Henry Fonda” in the room, but for now, his daughter, Meghan McCain, will have to do. She has bluntly denounced Trump’s tweets as “racist” while also decrying the “cowardice” in other Republicans for not standing up to Trump.

Somewhere, Richard Spencer, the white supremacist leader who attended the 2016 Republican convention in support of Trump and “sipped Manhattans as he matter-of-factly called for removing African-Americans, Hispanics and Jews from the United States,” is smiling triumphantly.

“Trust me. Trump thinks like me,” Spencer told AP reporter Steve Peoples back then. “Do you think it’s a coincidence that everybody like me loves Trump and supports him?”

No, Dick, we don’t think it’s a coincidence at all.

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Jud Lounsbury

Jud Lounsbury

Jud Lounsbury lives on a small farm south of Madison, Wisconsin with his family and writes for and the Uppity Wisconsin blog. Follow him on Twitter: @JudLounsbury

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