After President Trump made racist attacks on left-wing Democrats, his supporters engaged in frantic historical revisionism. Trump was not calling his nonwhite targets foreign or denying their Americanness, they insisted. He merely noted that they may wish to emigrate given their deep ideological disagreement with the country’s institutions and political character. “His message is simple: The U.S.A. is the greatest nation on Earth, but if people aren’t happy here they don’t have to stay,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham calmly explained.
Wednesday night, Trump dispensed with that pretense. After a long and almost entirely dishonest attack on Ilhan Omar, his crowd began echoing Trump’s infamous words, chanting, “Send her back!”
Trump pauses to let the chant build before resuming his slander.
While most the the party apparatus is committed to the pretense that Trump was merely inviting left-wing America-haters to move to a more congenial place, Trump and his crowd are perfectly aware of what he meant. “Send her back” is not describing voluntary emigration.
Likewise the pretense that his targets were selected on the basis of ideology. (“Our opposition to our socialist colleagues isn’t because of their race, religion, or gender,” insists Liz Cheney, “It’s because their policies are dangerous, wrong, and would destroy America.”) Yet somehow, when Trump launched a long riff attacking Bernie Sanders for his socialist ambitions, insisting they would never be fulfilled, neither Trump nor his audience said anything about sending him to another country.
No doubt the Republican establishment will maintain the illusion that Trump is doing something other than calling for the deportation of an opposing party member of Congress.