- Erin Scott/Reuters
- Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar on Thursday had strong words for President Donald Trump after the president’s supporters at a rally on Wednesday chanted “send her back” in reference to the Minnesota lawmaker.
- Omar called Trump a “fascist” and a “racist.”
- “This is not about me – this is about us fighting for what this country truly should be,” she added.
- Trump on Thursday said he was “not happy” about the chant, but he paused and allowed it to continue during the rally, offering no objections.
- The chant went on for about 13 seconds before Trump started speaking again.
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Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar said President Donald Trump was a “racist” and “fascist” a day after he falsely accused her of supporting Al Qaeda and looked on as the crowd at a rally in North Carolina chanted “send her back.”
“I believe he is fascist,” Omar told reporters on Thursday.
The Minnesota lawmaker, who is a naturalized US citizen, said America is “supposed to be a country where we allow democratic debate and dissent to take place.”
“This is not about me – this is about us fighting for what this country truly should be,” she added.
Just asked Omar about the chants, and she says of Trump: "I believe he is a fascist." Responding to Lindsey Graham, who said if she were wearing a MAGA hat Trump wouldn't have said 'go back:' "Because I criticized the president, I should be deported?" pic.twitter.com/Pdgtozu6x6
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 18, 2019
The “send her back” chant echoed the president’s racist tweets on Sunday suggesting that Omar and three other progressive Democratic congresswomen of color – Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib – “go back” and “help fix the totally broken and crime infested” countries “from which they came.”
All four are US citizens, and three were born in the US. Omar was born in Somalia and came to the US as a child after fleeing a civil war. She became a US citizen at 17.
The president did not object to the chant at the time and paused to let it continue for about 13 seconds.
“She looks down with contempt on the hardworking Americans, saying that ignorance is pervasive in many parts of this country,” Trump said of Omar before the chant.
On Thursday, he told reporters he was “not happy” and disagreed with the chant.
Crowd at tonight's Trump rally in North Carolina breaks out into chants of "Send her back!" as the president attacks Rep. Ilhan Omar pic.twitter.com/0q5L39W61h
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) July 17, 2019
The “send her back” chant – and the fact Trump did not rebuke it as it transpired – prompted widespread criticism of the president and his reelection campaign.
But Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a key Trump ally, defended the president on Thursday, saying he didn’t think chant was racist because it wouldn’t have been said about a Somali refugee who embraced Trump.
“I don’t think a Somali refugee embracing Trump would not have been asked to go back. If you’re a racist, you want everybody from Somalia to go back because they’re black or they’re Muslim,” Graham said. “That’s not what this is about to me. What this is about to me is that these four congresswomen, in their own way, have been incredibly provocative.”
The “go back” comments reference a racist “go back to Africa” trope leveled for generations against black people who spoke up against injustice and unfair working conditions.
Omar also told reporters on Thursday that Graham defended Trump’s comments “by saying that if I was wearing a MAGA hat, if there was a Somali person wearing a MAGA hat, they would not be deported, but because I criticized the president I should be deported.”