July 16, 2019 – Over the weekend, President Donald Trump struck again, tweeting that four members of the U.S. House of Representatives (all of whom are women of color) should “go back” to the countries they came from.
Actually, of the four – U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna S. Pressley (D-Mass.) – only Omar was born abroad, in Somalia. (She became a U.S. citizen in 2000.) For Tlaib, for example, going back to where she came from would require a trip to Detroit.
I’ll refrain from saying this is a new low for Trump. There have been so many lows it’s impossible to sort them out anymore. Suffice it to say, the idea that a brown-skinned person does not belong in America, is a threat to our nation or should “go back” to some other country is a common racist trope. Many commentators have pointed that out. It debases the office of the presidency to hear such xenophobic tripe emanating from the White House.
But that, sadly, is where we are these days. I’ve long since stopped expecting any sense of decorum or decency from Trump. My attention these days tends to focus on his enablers among the Religious Right. If a high-profile Democrat had said something so blatantly racist and offensive, they would have immediately pounced. So what are they saying about Trump’s latest tweet tantrum?
I made a quick visit to the websites and social media feeds of leading Religious Right groups this morning. With the exception of Jerry Falwell Jr., who actually approvingly retweeted the offensive Trump tweet, they are saying nothing about this. Zilch. Nada. Some of them may speak, eventually – and when they do, I can guarantee you they’ll offer a defense of Trump.
That’s no surprise. As I noted in a recent Church & State article, Trump’s Religious Right sycophants either overlook his gross antics or find some way to excuse them. No matter what Trump does – whether it’s boasting about sexually assaulting women, selling our nation out to the Russians, cozying up to dictators or lying repeatedly – the Religious Right simply does not care because he delivers for them politically. Yet even as they gleefully trade their souls for conservative judicial appointments, the leaders of Religious Right groups continue spewing their moral judgment on everyone else who fails to meet their crabbed and exclusionary version of faith.
Trump seems determined to drag America into an abyss of amorality, indecency, division, fear and just plain crudeness. But I still believe we’re a better nation than that. Let the Religious Right wallow in a fetid pit of white nationalism and hate with Trump. The rest of us, assuming the mantle of a real “moral majority,” so to speak, have an ethical obligation to help the nation claw its way out.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a nonpartisan educational and advocacy organization dedicated to advancing the separation of religion and government as the only way to ensure freedom of religion, including the right to believe or not believe, for all. www.au.org