Trump rally chants show the link between racist tweets and the march towards fascism

Trump rally.
Peter Bolton

On 14 July, Donald Trump sent out a series of menacing tweets telling progressive Democratic congress members to “go back” to their home countries. His targets – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley – are all US citizens. Only Omar was not born in the US.

The tweets added yet another thread to the rich tapestry of Trump’s fascist credentials. And he has not only refused to retract or apologize for them, but has been adding further fuel to the flames. At his latest rally, for example, he defiantly doubled down, issuing a further set of attacks and insults toward the four congress members – and Omar in particular. But it was the reaction of the crowd that was perhaps most worrying.

“Send her back!”

On 17 July, Trump held a campaign rally for his 2020 reelection bid in North Carolina. His typically rambling and disjointed speech soon turned to the controversy over the tweets. He claimed that Omar had “smeared US service members,” “minimized the September 11th attacks,” “pleaded for compassion for Isis [Daesh] recruits,” and had a “history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds”.

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His comments were nothing new. He has frequently invoked this kind of knuckle-dragging nationalism to rally his base. But as he continued, the crowd started to chant “send her back”. Trump did nothing to discourage the chants. Instead, he allowed extended pauses to let the crowd continue.

Speaking on 18 July about the chanting, Trump argued: “I was not happy with it. I disagree with it. But again, I didn’t say that. They did.”

“If you’re chanting this, you’re a racist.”

Unsurprisingly, Twitter users responded firmly to the controversy:

Omar herself, meanwhile, posted a strong but dignified response:

Investigative journalist Asa Winstanley pointed out that establishment liberals have played a sinister role in creating a petri dish in which Trump’s fascism can congeal:

And activist David Hogg pointed out that Trump’s statements fit within a historical pattern of diversion tactics:

Another addition to a fascistic record

The incident adds to a long list of Trump’s fascistic tendencies. In October 2018, for example, he praised a fellow Republican for assaulting a journalist who had politely asked a run-of-the-mill policy question about healthcare. In June 2019, meanwhile, he indicated that he might try to “stay longer” in office longer than the eight years maximum allowed by the US constitution if his base were to “demand” it. And during a recent Fox News interview, his administration’s deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said that Trump recently told advisers: “Listen, I’m not going to be beholden to courts anymore.” In other words, he cares little for judicial independence.

If there was any lingering doubt that we are now seeing all the hallmarks of early 20th-century fascism reemerging, it’s been demolished this week. If ever there was a need for people like Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Pressley to be in congress, it’s now.

Featured image via YouTube

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