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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

If you try to defend President Donald Trump, you will always end up having the rug pulled out from underneath you. It’s a law of nature.

And yet, so many of the president’s allies have failed to learn this simple lesson. So when Trump launched a new attack at progressive Democratic lawmakers that was one of his most obviously racist smears, inevitably, some of his defenders tried to deny the obvious truth.

His screed attacked a group of women who have come to define the left wing of the Democratic caucus, which includes Reps. Ilhan Omar (MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Rashida Talib (MI), and Ayanna Pressley (MA). Though only Omar is an immigrant (she was a refugee from Somalia as a child), Trump seemed to assume all four women of color weren’t born in the United States, and most egregiously, he suggested they should “go back” to other countries:

Matt Wolking, a deputy director of communications for the president’s re-election campaign, was one of the first to defend the president, by bizarrely claiming he didn’t say what he said.

Of course, saying “go back to your country and then come back” includes the statement “go back to your country,” so his statement was absurd on its face. To read the argument as generously as possible, though, Woking might have been trying to argue that Trump’s statement couldn’t echo to the racist trope of white Americans telling minorities to “go back to their country,” because that trope doesn’t usually include an invitation to return. However, even this argument is clearly nonsense, because there’s no reason Trump’s claim that the congresswomen should “help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” and then “come back and show us how it is done” should be seen as anything but disingenuous.

First of all, most of the women that he’s clearly referring to were born in the United States, so there’s nowhere for them to “go back” to. They are fighting to improve the only country they’ve lived in. Second, even telling someone like Omar, a refugee, that she owes more allegiance to “fix” the country her family fled as a child is still patently racist. And the idea that we should take Trump seriously when he says he would want to learn from Omar if she were able to “fix” Somalia’s problems is so ridiculous that Wolking should be ashamed to ever speak publicly about politics ever again.

But even more humiliating for Wolking is that on Monday, Trump decided to annihilate even this tissue paper-thin defense of Trump’s tweets.

“These are people that hate our country,” Trump said at the White House. “They hate our country. They hate it, I think, with a passion.”

He continued: “If somebody has a problem with our country, if somebody doesn’t want to be in our country, they should leave.” He said nothing about them “coming back.” (And of course, this is completely hypocritical, as Trump has been extremely critical of the United States in recent years. In 2015, he literally published a book called “Crippled America” — and yet no one thought the fact that he had criticisms of the country meant he should find somewhere else to live.)

And CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed out that Trump’s new comments also undercut the defense from Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD). Harris said Trump’s tweets were “clearly not racist” and the congresswomen to “go back to the district they came from — to the neighborhood they came from.”

Of course, Trump’s original tweets and his doubling down on the remarks make it clear that this isn’t at all what Trump meant.

 

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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