”Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how........it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough”

— President Donald J. Trump

Some things transcend politics.

There are no two people in The Southern Illinoisan’s newsroom that see eye-to-eye on every issue. There are times the room is filled with the sounds of spirited debate. That is the beauty of life in the United States.

When the president aimed the aforementioned tweet at Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan; and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Michigan; earlier this week he violated several tenets of American life.

In America, we can disagree. We can agree to disagree.

We understand that the vast majority of us have the same basic vision of America — a country where all, regardless of creed, skin color or nation of origin, are free to pursue our dreams, to take advantage of the freedoms offered by our Constitution and to live our lives without undue oversight from our government.

What we tend to disagree on is what path we should take to pursue those dreams.

Those disagreements are older than the Republic itself. Our founding fathers argued heatedly over four months at the 1787 Constitutional Convention before agreeing on an outline of self-government.

Disagreeing over public policy is the birthright of every American citizen. That’s what makes the words the president tweeted earlier this week even more distasteful.

Suggesting people leave this country because they disagree with you is fundamentally un-American. But, piling on with time-worn bigoted tropes is inexcusable.

Unfortunately, that line of thinking has been part of the American landscape for years.

Native Americans and African Americans returning home from World War II, even those decorated for bravery, were subjected to the same discrimination they faced prior to their service.

Since Trump’s tweets, members of Congress, who are also people of color, have stepped forward and told personal stories of constituents berating them for not “looking American.” One of the comments they frequently hear is “go back to where you came from.”

For the record, only Rep. Omar was not born in this country. She is Somalian by birth, but has actually achieved citizenship six years prior to the First Lady.

That behavior is unacceptable in a shopping center parking lot, in a public park, a bar or anywhere in the Land of the Free. Coming from the Oval Office, it’s unthinkable.

And, in many situations the president’s behavior is illegal. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission clearly states it is unlawful for employers to harass subordinates based on their country of origin.

Aside from the thinly veiled bigotry, the mean-spirited nature of the president’s remarks, the undeniable element of bullying are nearly impossible to overlook — unless you are a congressional Republican. The House of Representatives voted Tuesday to condemn the president’s remarks.

The vast majority of Republicans, including local representatives Mike Bost and John Shimkus, chose to not condemn the president’s remarks. In today’s hyper-partisan atmosphere, that’s not surprising, but it is still disappointing.

Some things are inappropriate. Some things, like treating fellow human beings with basic respect and dignity should be immune from party affiliation. The president’s words crossed a line that should be sacred to Republicans, Democrats and independents.

Finally, it’s also worth noting that all four targets of the president’s ire were women. That fact has been largely overlooked in the national reporting. And, that is all the more reason the tweets should have been decried universally.

An editorial from The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan.


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