American President Donald Trump on Monday defended his attacks on four female Democratic members of Congress, saying he is not worried about criticism because “many people agree with me.”
Trump added, “If you hate our country... you can leave.”
He claimed the four lawmakers had used bad language and said “terrible things about the U.S., Israel and the presidency.”
Trump’s comments came a day after he wrote a series of messages on Twitter telling the four women to go back and help fix the “broken and crime infested” countries they came from.
The four congresswomen are all considered “progressive” Democrats. They are Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
Omar was born in Somalia and became a naturalized U.S. citizen before her election to Congress. The other three, all minorities, were born in the United States.
Later on Monday, the four lawmakers appeared together in a televised news conference. Representative Ayanna Pressley urged Americans to “not take the bait” and called the president’s comments a “distraction” from other issues.
Republicans have mostly stayed quiet about Trump’s comments. Only a few Republican lawmakers have spoken out against the president.
Susan Collins is a Republican Senator from Maine who is running for re-election next year. She said Trump’s Twitter messages were “way over the line and he should take that down.” Another Republican, John Kasich, called the president’s tweets “deplorable.” He is a former governor of Ohio and a one-time member of Congress.
Tim Scott of South Carolina is the only black Republican in the U.S. Senate. On Monday, he said that Trump had “interjected with unacceptable personal attacks and racially offensive language” in his tweets about the lawmakers.
A strong Republican defender of Trump is Senator Lindsey Graham, also of South Carolina. On Monday, he advised the president to “aim higher” during an appearance on Fox News.
But Graham also strongly criticized the four lawmakers in question. He called the them “a bunch of communists,” “anti-Semitic,” and “anti-American.” He said, "They hate Israel, they hate our own country, they're calling the guards along our border, the border control agents, concentration camp guards, they accuse people who support Israel of doing it for the Benjamins [or money]…”
Several months ago, Omar had suggested that members of Congress support Israel in exchange for money, while Tlaib used bad language to predict that Trump would be removed from office.
Democrats universally condemned Trump’s comments as racist and divisive.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the comments “disgusting.” She said Trump “went beyond his own low standards using disgraceful language about members of Congress.”
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez answered Trump in a tweet, saying, “Mr. President, the country I “come from,” & the country we all swear to, is the United States.” She added, “But given how you’ve destroyed our border with inhumane camps, all at a benefit to you & the corps who profit off them, you are absolutely right about the corruption laid at your feet.”
Representative Ilhan Omar added, “You are stoking white nationalism (because) you are angry that people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda.”
Representative Ayanna Pressley said, “THIS is what racism looks like. WE are what democracy looks like. And we’re not going anywhere.” And, Representative Rashida Tlaib repeated her call for Trump’s impeachment. She wrote, “He is the crisis. His dangerous ideology is the crisis. He needs to be impeached.”
Pelosi also said on Monday the House would vote on a resolution condemning the comment. She called on lawmakers from both parties to support the resolution.
She said the resolution would include former Republican President Ronald Reagan’s last speech as president in which he thanked immigrants. In the speech, Reagan said if the U.S. “ever closed the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost.”
Two close American allies have also condemned Trump’s tweets about the four lawmakers.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Trump’s comments are “not how we do things in Canada.” A spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said the language Trump used was “completely unacceptable.”
Accusation of racist comments
When asked Monday whether his recent comments were racist, Trump told White House reporters, “Not at all.”
It is not the first time Trump has been accused of expressing racist ideas.
When he first announced his candidacy for president in June 2015, Trump said Mexico was sending criminals and rapists into the country. During the presidency of Barack Obama, Trump repeatedly claimed that Obama – the country’s first black president – was not born in the United States.
In his first year as president, Trump said there were good people on “both sides” of the 2017 clashes between white supremacists and anti-racist demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia.
And during a White House meeting on immigration in early 2018, Trump reportedly used insulting language to describe Haiti as well as several African nations.
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Words in This Story
infest - v. to be in or over a place in large numbers
anti-Semitic - adj. feeling or showing hatred of Jewish people
take the bait - idiomatic expression. to be tricked into doing something
distraction - n. something that amuses or entertains you so that you do not think about problems, work, etc...
concentration camp - n. a prison where large numbers of non-soldiers are kept and are usually forced to live in very bad conditions
disgusting - adj. so bad that you feel annoyed and angry
standard - n. a level of quality, achievement, etc., that is considered acceptable
disgraceful - adj. becoming unworthy of respect or approval
deplorable - adj. very bad in a way that causes shock, fear, or disgust
benefit - n. a helpful result or effect
impeach - v. to charge (a public official) with a crime done while in office
stoke - v. to increase the amount or strength of something
agenda - n. a goal or plan that guides someone's behavior
ideology - n. the set of ideas and beliefs of a group or a political party
supremacist - n. a person who believes that one group of people is better than all other groups and should have control over them