“Send Her Back, Send Her Back!”

send her backI’m trying to get my thinking around the latest in the Trump drama, notably, the Presidential tweet directing the four congresswomen to return to their own countries (three of them were born in the US) and the chanting that took place at a Trump rally wherein Trump supporters began to chant, “Send her back, send her back,” referring to the fourth congresswoman who was born elsewhere but is a US citizen by naturalization.

I don’t know how many people were in attendance, but I can’t imagine that everyone there failed civics class. I’m concerned that the President and his supporters misunderstand the concept of citizenship. When you are a US citizen, there is nowhere you can be sent. This is home. This is where you belong. Full stop. When you are a US citizen you may run for elected office, you have protections under the constitution, you’re allowed to express dissent. That’s the way it is. There is no excommunication or deportation for citizens.

I don’t know what people were thinking when yelling,  ‘send her back.’ So many Trumpsters say they don’t oppose immigration, just illegal immigration. Well, this woman, most likely, went through the proper channels and  is now a bonafide US citizen with all the rights and responsibilities pertaining thereto. Someone becomes a citizen doing it the ‘right way’, exercises her Constitutional right to speak her mind,  and DT and his supporters are still not happy? Jesus.

This situation troubles me at a deeper level. Donald Trump’s tweets and speeches  (and poor understanding of aviation history) are cause for concern, to be sure. The chanting, however, is of a different tone and character and should give us serious pause. It wasn’t an isolated individual or the random shouting of a few. Enough people participated in the demonstration that the President stopped speaking long enough to hear what was being said.  He shared the stage with powerful voices that he has helped bring to the fore. When John McCain ran for President against Barack Obama and some of McCain’s supporters identified Obama as a terrorist and Arab, McCain immediately shut them down, extolling Obama as a ‘decent’ man with whom he disagreed. Trump made no disavowal of the chanting until the next day, and then only at the questioning of a reporter.

A demagogue won’t get very far in his or her ambition if people don’t listen, digest, and act on the demagogue’s rhetoric. Those that joined their voices to Trump’s dangerous speech potentiate him and encourage continued and increased violent words. I’ve taken Trump’s presidency seriously thus far. I don’t discount his power or capacity to do serious damage to our nation and others, but his supporter’s collusion with his insanity  has upped the ante. I have tried to avoid comparisons between Trump and his movement with other nationalist movements that have reaped terrible tragedy on the people of this world. The voices of my fellow citizens joining Donald Trump’s lunacy sobers me. I will not make irresponsible historical side-by-side comparisons. Nor will I ignore, however incipient, indications of the peril our country faces as this president  foments division and the abandonment of our core values.