Those were my first thoughts as I watched the crowd at President Trump’s rally in North Carolina last night frenziedly chanting ‘SEND HER BACK! SEND HER BACK!’ about Muslim US congresswoman Ilhan Omar – as their President stood proudly making no attempt to stop them.
Some raised fists, some were just children.
All of them seemed united in racist rage.
I feared this kind of horrifying scene might ensue after Trump had so recklessly and offensively instructed Omar and her four-woman ‘Squad’ of young female Democrats to ‘go back’ to their own ‘crime infested’ countries of origin.
But to actually watch and hear a large gathering of thousands of predominantly white Americans chanting such a blatant infamous racist trope about a democratically elected fellow American made me shudder.
Then it made me angry.
This should not be happening in modern America.
And the fact Donald Trump is not just allowing it to happen, but actively encouraging it to happen, is an indefensible disgrace.
The President keeps insisting he’s not a racist, and I’ve repeatedly said that in the 13 years I’ve known him, I’ve personally never witnessed him being a racist.
But since running for the White House, his inflammatory language has flirted ever closer to crossing the line into overt racism, and now he’s crossed that line. Big time.
Let’s be very unambiguously clear: what happened in North Carolina last night was not just racist-fueled demagoguery but bordered on fascism.
There was the President of the United States whipping his supporters into a hyper-animated state of rage about a political opponent because of her ethnicity.
Had Trump just focused on Omar’s political views, many of which are highly controversial, then his ferocious rhetoric would have been rough, tough but acceptable.
Omar, after all, has publicly dedicated herself to being Trump’s ‘nightmare’ and never misses a chance to attack and insult the President.
But when the President of the United States stands at a podium in America, and does absolutely nothing as an ugly raucous racist ‘SEND HER BACK!’ chant about a fellow American fills the air, it’s an absolute disgrace.
‘It’s vile, it’s cowardly, it’s xenophobic, it’s racist,’ tweeted presidential candidate Kamala Harris. And she’s right.
It’s important to remember how Ilhan Omar came to be an American citizen.
She was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1982, the youngest of seven siblings. Her mom died when she was just two, and she was raised by her father and grandfather.
Ilhan and her family fled Somalia to escape the brutal civil war that erupted in the country.
They spent four years in a refugee camp in Utange, close to the Kenyan coastal town of Mombassa in East Africa.
Conditions there, especially for a very young girl, were very tough.
But then the Omar family were among the very fortunate few to secure sponsorship for resettlement in America, and they traveled to first Virginia and then to settle in Minneapolis where more than 50,000 Somalis now live.
Ilhan suffered regular physical and emotional bullying at school for wearing a hijab, but she overcame them to be, by widespread account, a hard-working and conscientious student.
And in 2000, at the age of 17, she became a U.S. citizen.
She decided then to devote herself to public life, and after graduating in political science, she threw herself into a political career that propelled her to become, at 34, one of the youngest people to ever be elected to Congress and the first Somali-American legislator in U.S. history.
So that’s her story, and in many ways it is the absolute personification of the American dream.
Now, I’m no great fan of Congresswoman Omar.
Like the rest of the Squad, she’s an unashamed hard-core socialist with a radical progressive agenda that wants, amongst other things, everyone in America to have free healthcare and free college tuition, a minimum wage of $15 an hour, and an all-green environmental policy.
As with the other ‘Squad’ members, she hasn’t explained how the staggering cost of all this – estimated at $43 trillion – is going to be paid without bankrupting the country.
There are also legitimate questions to be asked of Omar’s very murky private life, not least whether she was married to two men at once, and whether, according to on-going unsubstantiated rumor fueled by Trump yesterday – one she adamantly denies – that she may have wed her own brother to help him get round immigration status issues.
Nor is Omar immune from a charge of racism herself.
Her vehement anti-Israel stance manifested itself in a blatantly anti-Semitic tweet several months ago that U.S. support for Israel was ‘all about the Benjamins baby.’
But Trump’s horrendous treatment of her now has gone way beyond normal political jousting and entered the realm of danger.
The threat to Omar’s life is very real. In February, the words ‘Assassinate Ilhan Omar’ were graffitied in a Minnesota gas station restroom, prompting an FBI investigation.
The same month, a white nationalist named Christopher Hasson was arrested for allegedly plotting to kill various journalists and left-wing political figures including Omar.
Two months later, a Trump supporter was arrested for threatening to murder her in a phone call to Omar’s office.
It must be hard enough being the first Somali-born person in Congress without the constant worry that people want to kill you for it.
Trump has deliberately inflamed the risk against her by falsely claiming, as he did again last night, that she has praised Al-Qaeda.
I’ve seen the interview where she makes the comments that sparked this claim, and she doesn’t say that at all. In fact, she condemns Al Qaeda.
By saying she did, Trump is urging Americans to despise her as a sympathizer for the terror group responsible for 9/11.
That is an astonishingly dangerous thing to do.
Omar responded to last night’s rally on Twitter by posting a photo of herself sitting in Congress with the caption: ‘I am where I belong, at the people’s house, and you’re just going to have to deal!’
She also shared a poem by Maya Angelou: ‘You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with you hatefulness. But still, like air, I’ll rise.’
In a very small way, I could empathize with her.
When I worked full time in America for CNN, I myself was subject to a petition in 2013 demanding I be sent home to England over my outspoken demands for new gun control laws.
It was signed by over 150,000 Americans, generated a lot of publicity, and caused me to be subjected to considerable xenophobic abuse and threats.
It was an unsettling and intimidating experience, no question.
But fortunately for me, President Obama came to my defense and declared in an official statement (the petition had been launched on a White House website so he was compelled to respond when signatures reached a certain level) that I would not be deported because I was entitled to free speech.
I was grateful for his support, but it was no more than I would expect under the circumstances.
Just as I would expect President Trump to absolutely defend Congresswoman Omar’s status as an American citizen against these disgusting taunts of ‘SEND HER BACK!’
But he can’t defend her because he’s the one who started it.
What happened last night was a despicable moment in modern America.
It will have confirmed to Trump’s critics that they’re right to fear him as someone prepared to use racism to fuel his political power.
And it will have surely sunk the hearts of everyone who supports Trump but also believes in the fundamental heart and soul of the American Dream too?
If every American with ethnic origins outside of America is ‘SENT BACK!’ then there will be no America left.
There’s no possible defense for such an outrageous racist attack on a young Muslim American congresswoman.
I urge President Trump to stop this dangerous nonsense immediately before the vile rhetoric is inevitably acted upon, with potentially devastating consequences.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Piers Morgan
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