KABABAYANS, I hear you. Some of you say President Donald Trump’s tirades against the four women representatives in Congress were not racist. You contend that this is just part of his fight against illegal immigration, and you elected and support him for that.
I get it. I understand how strongly you feel about this issue. Like you, my family also followed the rules, paid the fees, and waited in line to obtain our legal immigration status in the United States.
But illegal immigration was NOT the issue when Trump told the four congresswomen of color to go back where they came from last Sunday because these women are all U.S. citizens. In fact, three of them were born in the United States while one naturalized to be a citizen of this country after being a refugee.
These four honorable women were accorded the public trust and elected by their constituents to be their voices, their champions, and their representatives in Congress in this democracy despite the fact that they are persons of color. If anything, their elections are acknowledgments and affirmations of the new faces of an America that is strengthened and enriched by people from different parts of the world.
Trump was NOT fighting against illegal immigration when he sent out those racist tweets although one could argue that his anti-illegal immigration policies are driven by the same spirit behind his tweets.
After all, Trump, his family and business empire all benefited from employing undocumented immigrants. He just started championing policies against it when he ran for president, because he knows the frustration and resentment of people like you and he used it to win your votes.
“SEND HER BACK!” echoed loud and clear in Trump’s re-election rally in North Carolina last Wednesday night, from the fans and supporters of Trump in the audience, reacting to more attacks by the President against the four congresswomen of color, particularly against Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, who entered the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia.
Like the other three women vilified by Trump with lies, hyperbole and misinformation, Omar studied and worked hard – Edison High School; Secondary; North Dakota State University; B.S.; Political Science and International Studies, University of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs; Fellowship; Policy Fellow.
She earned the trust and respect of the district she is representing.
“SEND HER BACK!” chants of Trump’s supporters sent chills to Americans and people from around the world witnessing how this president has inflamed so much anger from his crowd against Omar, a U.S. citizen and an elected public official. This is a reflection of how much hatred, fear, division Trump has sowed just to hold on to his base and win elections. Divide and conquer worked for him in 2016, and he is using the same playbook now for his 2020 re-election bid.
Trump claimed his tweets were not racist. Many people agreeing with him is why he has doubled down on his attacks against these four women of color who do not quite look like ‘Americans,’ using them as his bogey(wo)men who represent the new face of the Democratic party, and scaring his base against their liberal progressive ideas and policies he calls evil and un-American pushed by people who hate America.
But most people do not agree with him. Facing backlash even from members of his own party, he claimed on Thursday, July 18 that he felt bad about the chants, and that he immediately stopped the audience.
The live videos would disprove his lies, however. He stood there, chin up, enjoying the moment for 13 seconds. He did nothing. He said nothing. And when the chanting died down, he continued attacking Rep. Omar.
Trump should have learned from John McCain about what true genuine disavowing is, when the late senator grabbed the mic from a woman in red during a town hall meeting when she said “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him, and he’s not, he’s not — he’s an Arab.”
McCain said, “No ma’am. He’s a decent family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about.”
But Trump just revealed his true intentions behind this drama of disavowing the chant in less than 24 hours. On Friday, Trump continued with his tirades and even praised those who chanted as “true patriots.” Omar and the rest of the women demonized by Trump have been receiving death threats.
Trump never told white people who, like the four women, were also critical of him to “Go back to the country were you came from.” This is racism and discrimination.
Here’s a quick vocabulary lesson:
Racism: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
Discrimination: the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.
The Justice Department says, “Federal laws prohibit discrimination based on a person’s national origin, race, color, religion, disability, sex, and familial status. Laws prohibiting national origin discrimination make it illegal to discriminate because of a person’s birthplace, ancestry, culture or language. This means people cannot be denied equal opportunity because they or their family are from another country, because they have a name or accent associated with a national origin group, because they participate in certain customs associated with a national origin group, or because they are married to or associate with people of a certain national origin.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says, “The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.”
It is unlawful to harass a person because of that person’s race or color. Harassment can include, for example, racial slurs, offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s race or color, or the display of racially-offensive symbols. Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).
Trump is the president of the United States and yet, he is violating these laws put into place to stop the culture of racism and discrimination in America.
People lose their jobs and companies are penalized when they do what Trump has been doing to people of color. Why is he being given a pass when he should have the moral authority to make sure this does not happen in America.
This is not an isolated case. Trump’s history, words and actions before he became president and up to now, proves he is racist and discriminates against people of color like you and me.
MGA KABABAYAN, do you condone racism and discrimination? If not, then speak out and speak up. Silence is complicity.
As Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos