July 17, 2019 at 5:34 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Trump condemned by lawmakers, LGBT advocates for racist tweets
impeachment, gay news, Washington Blade
President Trump issued racist tweets against four Democratic lawmakers. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

President Trump’s tweets telling four congresswomen who belong to racial minority groups to “go back” their home countries has invoked the ire of LGBT rights supporters, who say the tweets reaffirm the racism of Trump and the deplorables who support him.

Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of the LGBT media watchdog group GLAAD, said Trump’s racist tweets were “abhorrent.”

“Not only were they filled with falsehoods, but they reinforce what we have been saying since day one: His hateful rhetoric fosters xenophobia, racism, anti-LGBTQ attitudes and intolerance amongst his supporters and the population at large,” Ellis said.

On Sunday morning, Trump — in apparent reference to tensions in the House Democratic caucus between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — unleashed a series of racist tweets that inspired nationwide condemnation in the week that followed.

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” Trump tweeted. “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.”

The four congresswomen Trump referenced were Cortez, the author of the Green New Deal in the House, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) as well as the two Muslim women in Congress: Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). (Of these four, only Omar — who was born in Somalia, but obtained asylum as a youth in the United States — is foreign born.)

Given a sense of unity amid public infighting in which Ocasio-Cortez insinuated Pelosi was targeting women of color in her caucus, House Democrats responded with a non-binding resolution condemning Trump’s tweets as racist,. The measure passed Tuesday by a margin of 240-187. 

Only four Republicans — Reps. Will Hurd (Texas), Fred Upton (Mich.), Susan Brooks (Ind.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.) — joined Democrats in voting in favor of the resolution. Rep. Justin Amash, who recently became an independent after announcing he’d leave the Republican Party, also voted “yes” on the measure.

Among those condemning Trump as a racist on the House floor was Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who recalled his days as a civil rights pioneer in denouncing the president’s language.

“I know racism when I see it,” Lewis said. “I know racism when I feel it. And at the highest level of government, there’s no room for racism…The world is watching. They are shocked and dismayed because it seems we have lost our way as a nation.”

The debate on Tuesday to condemn Trump took longer than originally planned. After Pelosi read the title of the resolution, which called Trump’s comments racist, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) tried to undo her remarks from the record, citing rules precluding House members from calling the president of the United States a racist.

After some back and forth in which House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) advised the words were in fact out of order and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), presiding over the chamber as chair, abandoned his seat in protest, the House ultimately voted against striking Pelosi’s words from the record.

(It’s rare to challenge a House speaker’s rules as out of order. The last time a speaker of the House was found to be in violation of that rule was in 1984 when then-Speaker Tip O’Neill was challenged by then-Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) over what the CSPAN cameras in the chamber should be allowed to show.)

Stacey Long Simmons, director of advocacy and action at the National LGBTQ Task Force, praised the House resolution condemning Trump’s tweets as racist. 

“Our squad goals are to eradicate injustice everywhere it lives, from racism in the White House to anti-LGBTQ discrimination in health care,” Simmons said. “Every step on that path, like the congressional resolution, is helpful in the struggle. We seek leadership that makes our society safe for everyone to live free. Be you.”

Also praising the resolution was GLAAD’s Ellis, although she said more work is necessary to repudiate the racism espoused by Trump.

“The House resolution condemning these attacks is a step forward, but it’s critical that members of both parties stand together to reject Trump’s dangerous and violent rhetoric,” Ellis said.

House Democrats weren’t done. Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) introduced articles of impeachment against President Trump, which cites Trump’s racist tweets as reason to remove him from office.

The House was set to vote on the impeachment resolution Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

For his part, Trump has doubled-down on Twitter — and even tripled-down ahead of the vote on the resolution — in insisting his tweets “were NOT racist.”

“I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” Trump tweeted. “The so-called vote to be taken is a Democrat con game. Republicans should not show ‘weakness’ and fall into their trap. This should be a vote on the filthy language, statements and lies told by the Democrat Congresswomen, who I truly believe, based on their actions, hate our Country.”

David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said he worries about youth in schools in the aftermath of Trump’s tweets because he thinks bullies will be “empowered [by] hateful language from the highest office of the land.”

“Not only was the president resolute in doubling-down on his racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, problematic beliefs, but signaled being comfortable in all of that because there are other white people who agree with it,” Johns said.

According to the latest polls, Trump’s tweets didn’t hurt him, and may, in fact, have bolstered his standing, at least among Republicans. A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted Monday and Tuesday revealed his net approval among members of the Republican Party rose by 5 percentage points to 72 percent compared to a similar poll that ran last week. Meanwhile, Trump’s overall approval remained unchanged at 41 percent.

“We shouldn’t be surprised as he’s been consistent in demonstrating these are his beliefs, even when he was campaigning, but I worry greatly about not only the signal that it’s sending, but the damage that it’s doing to our political community, but also to children,” Johns concluded.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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