U.S. Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley held a joint press conference Monday against President Donald Trump’s racist attack on them.
They slammed the president for promoting an “agenda of white nationalism” and urged U.S. citizens to “not take the bait” of the divisive rhetorics.
Trump has intensified his attacks on the congresswomen of color asking them to leave the country. Over the weekend, he said in a tweet that the four first-term minority congresswomen, known informally in Congress as “the squad,” should “go back” to the “the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.”
After widespread criticism, he defended his attack on them in an event at White House Monday, saying he was not concerned if people thought his tweets toward them were racist and accused the U.S. lawmakers of hating America.
“As far as I’m concerned if you hate our country, if you’re not happy here, you can leave,” Trump said.
Three of these high-profile left-wing politicians were born in the U.S., while Ilhan Omar is the only one who arrived in the country as a child after her family fled Somalia’s civil war as refugees in 1997, to later become a U.S. citizen in 2000.
“He’s launching a blatantly racist attack on four duly elected members of the United States House of Representatives, all of whom are women of color,” said Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
“This is the agenda of white nationalists, whether it is happening in chat rooms, or it is happening on national TV, and now it’s reached the White House garden.”
“This is a disruptive distraction from the issues of care, concern and consequence to the American people that we were sent here with a decisive mandate from our constituents to work on,” said Pressley the first Black woman to be elected to Congress from Massachusetts.
Despite international outcry, Trump showed no sign of remorse. He was shouting on Twitter against the women while they were holding the press conference.
“IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY HERE, YOU CAN LEAVE!” Trump wrote again.
He also accused Ihan Omar of being an al-Qaeda sympathizer. When asked by a reporter whether she supports the extremist organization, Omar said she would not “dignify” the question with an answer.
“Every time there is a white supremacist who attacks or there is a white man who kills in a school or in a movie theater, or in a mosque, or in a synagogue, I don’t expect my white community members to respond on whether they love that person or not,” she said saying that “it is time to impeach this president.”
“This president … does not know how to defend his policies and so what he does is attack us personally,” Ocasio-Cortez said adding that she was “not surprised” by his comments.
“Sadly, this is not the first nor will it be the last time we hear disgusting, bigoted language from the president,” Tlaib said. “We know this is who he is.”
“I want to tell the children across this country … that no matter what the president says, this country belongs to you, and it belongs everyone,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
The four congresswomen reiterated their promise to work for their constituents and shed light on issues like immigration, caged children at the border, something all of them have been vocal about.
The latest confrontation between them and the far-right president started after last week the four had a conflict with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Trump tried to use the spat for his political advantage. However, since his attacks, Pelosi took a stand against the president. She announced Monday that the House would formally condemn the “xenophobic” tweets about the “squad.”
“Let me be clear, our caucus will continue to forcefully respond to these disgusting attacks,” Ms. Pelosi wrote. “The House cannot allow the president’s characterization of immigrants to our country to stand. Our Republican colleagues must join us in condemning the president’s xenophobic tweets.”
Pelosi was joined by other Democrats like Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamla Harris. Biden slammed Trump for continuing to “spew hateful rhetoric, sow division, and stoke racial tensions for his own political gain.”
Social movements, progressive journalists, activists, all slammed Trump for his comments.
World leaders like U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, and London mayor Sadiq Khan also criticized Trump.
“The prime minister’s view is that the language was used to refer to those women was completely unacceptable,” said May’s spokesperson.
Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of London, said he had heard the “go back home” trope frequently in his life, but it had come “from racists and fascists, never form a mainstream politician.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “This is not how we do things in Canada.”
Nothing stopped Trump from spewing more hate as he continued his attacks on social media against the congresswomen. His Republican party members were also silent.
Few Republicans like Susan Collins, a Senator from Maine said that the president’s tweets were “way over the line.” The only African-American Republican Senator Tim Scott referred Said Trump’s tweets used “racially offensive language.”