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‘Despicable’: Democrats condemn Trump over rally’s Ilhan Omar chant

Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren denounced the president after rally erupted into chants of ‘send her back’

WT24 Desk

Democrats rushed to condemn Donald Trump after his supporters at a Wednesday night rally erupted into chants of “send her back” at the mention of Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Agencies report.

On Twitter, the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders was one of the first to offer his support to Omar, accusing the president of “stoking the most despicable and disturbing currents in our society” and called him the “most dangerous president in the history of our country”.

Omar is a US citizen, who was born in Somalia and arrived in the US almost 30 years ago as a child refugee.

The California senator and 2020 Democratic candidate Kamala Harris labeled the behavior as vile, cowardly and racist.

The Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, who is also a leading 2020 Democratic candidate, said impeachment proceedings against Trump must begin. “He’s trying to divide us and distract from his own crimes, and from his deeply unpopular agenda of letting the wealthy and well-connected rip off the country. We must do more,” Warren said.

Trump used the 2020 campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina, to attack Omar and three other Democratic congresswomen – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan – calling them “hate-filled extremists”. The group, which calls itself “the Squad”, has been the focus of racist attacks by Trump this week, kickstarted by tweets posted Sunday in which he said the lawmakers, all women of color, should “go back” to other countries.

Omar, of Minnesota, arrived in the United States at age eight as a refugee of war from Somalia and was naturalized as a US citizen as a child. She reacted to the chants with a tweet on Wednesday evening, in which she quoted a poem by Maya Angelou: “You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise.” She later posted: “I am where I belong, at the people’s house and you’re just gonna have to deal.”

Republican reaction to the moment in Wednesday night’s rally has been much less robust, with only a handful chiming in.

Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld said he challenged “every Republican to watch Donald Trump’s rally last night, complete with chants of ‘Send her back’, and ask if that is the Party of Lincoln and Reagan we signed up for”.

Weld, who is mounting a highly improbable primary challenge against Trump for the Republican nomination, continued: “We are in a fight for the soul of the GOP, and silence is not an option.”

North Carolina congressman Mark Walker said he “struggled” with the “send her back” chant, downplaying the outburst by calling it “brief”. Walker continued: “Her history, words & actions reveal her great disdain for both America & Israel. That should be our focus and not phrasing that’s painful to our friends in the minority communities.”

Fox News host Laura Ingram chided the media for “conjured up” outrage over the chant and for “fram[ing] the entire rally around this one section of the crowd’s reaction”.

Meanwhile, leading British politicians including Jeremy Corbyn and London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, are among thousands to sign a letter of support for the Squad created by the anti-racist charity Hope Not Hate. The letter described the four US congresswomen as “the best of America”, and condemns Trump’s “blatant, unashamed racism”.

Going after four Democratic congresswomen one by one, a combative Trump turned his campaign rally into an extended dissection of the liberal views of the women of color, deriding them for what he painted as extreme positions and suggesting they just get out.

“Tonight I have a suggestion for the hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down,” Trump told the crowd in North Carolina, a swing state he won in 2016 and wants to claim again in 2020. “They never have anything good to say. That’s why I say: ‘Hey if you don’t like it, let ‘em leave, let ‘em leave.’”

Eager to rile up his base with the some of the same kind of rhetoric he targeted at minorities and women in 2016, Trump declared Wednesday night: “I think in some cases they hate our country.”

Taking the legislators on one at a time, Trump ticked through a laundry list of what he deemed offensive comments by each woman, mangling and misconstruing many facts along the way.

Omar came under the harshest criticism as Trump played to voters’ grievances, drawing a chant from the crowd of: “Send her back! Send her back!”

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