The Trump administration is continuing to attract widespread criticism for President Donald Trump’s treatment of Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and other progressive women of color like her, but the Trump team doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with his behavior because he has an immigrant — Elaine Chao — in his Cabinet. Yes, they’re pulling the “I have a __ friend so can’t be racist!!!” card. In an email to a Mother Jones reporter, Vice President Mike Pence’s deputy press secretary Darin Miller insisted that Chao is a good immigrant and Omar is, well, not.
As he put it:
‘Secretary Chao’s story is an example of what the President supports: She came legally to the U.S., worked hard and assimilated, and is dedicated to giving back and serving her country, and we can all support that. Contrast that with Rep. Omar, who seems content to criticize America at every turn, instead of trying to fix problems she sees.’
There’s little to basically no evidence for this supposed difference between Chao and Omar that supposedly means that actually, Trump has no problems with immigrants. Both came to the United States, became citizens, grew their profile to the point of their present positions in government, and so on. The most clear difference is that Chao supports Trump’s agenda, and Omar, of course, does not. Thus, in reality, the full argument from the Trump team is that “the president will support immigrants! if they support him first!” Again they have singled out people of color for extra scrutiny and seem like they’re trying to drag the United States back into decades and even centuries past.
It’s not just Miller making this particular argument. He got in touch with the Mother Jones reporter in the first place after that reporter shared a story about Pence chief of staff Marc Short telling Fox News that the president couldn’t have possibly had racist motives for going after Omar and the others because of Chao’s presence in his Cabinet as Transportation Secretary. The argument, Miller was trying to insist, is that it’s not about accepting racism but about pushing for Americans to be upstanding, or whatever. Nuanced racism is still racism, and Americans still don’t live in a dictatorship where criticism of leaders is forbidden no matter the president’s most desperate wishes.
Still, Trump has proceeded full speed ahead in his wild racist targeting of Omar and fellow progressive women of color Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), who together have been nicknamed “The Squad” since they ended up allies. He has claimed that they hate America and more, and at a rally this week after continuing to re-up his insistence that they should just leave, he happily presided over the crowd chanting “Send her back!” targeting Omar.
Trump claimed the following day that he didn’t approve and tried to shut it down, but that’s just some fake news. The plentifully available video of the incident makes his seeming acceptance abundantly clear in similar fashion to the case of a Florida rally where he literally laughed off someone from the crowd screaming that immigrants should be shot.
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