Remember hearing, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.
“There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America….
“We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.”
These were the words of then-Sen. Barack Obama as he spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. This stirring speech harked to the “better angels of our nature,” and was enthusiastically received by the convention. Later as president, Obama returned to this theme time and again – the unity of America – of E pluribus Unum; “Out of many, one.”
An America unified. An America, acting with purpose, and acting as one. One for all and all for one. “Yes, we can, yes we can.”
Indeed, there was a time when America expected its president to be a unifier. A leader of the whole nation. One who would cross aisles, work together, and lead the country forward. One who would speak to all of us with intent to bring us together in purpose.
Trump rallies are spiked with constant insults to his opponents. Constant division. Constantly pitching us against one another. Stoke the anger, stoke the fear of the oppressed by “them.” America is zero sum and we’ve got to keep it to ourselves…
America had become almost numb to this grotesque Trumpian aberration. And then came the tweet, and then came the chant – and then dozens of tweets…
“Send her back!”
“Send them back!”
“If they don’t like America as it is, send them back to the s—hole countries they came from.”
Except that three of the four women-of-color congresswomen were born here and the other, from Somalia, is a naturalized American. “Sending them home,” is “send them here” – so the whole thing makes no sense… except as a racist trope.
We see a sea of old white folks with red hats, chanting, screaming, “Send her back, send her back.”
A crowd, a mob – shouting down the black lady, “Send her back!”
It doesn’t take too much imagination to see where this kind of thing might lead… or what it quite looks like now. No help from Trump, who let this linger longer than it takes his national debt to rise over half a million bucks – 13 seconds. Trump, silently, looking left and right with a slight smile of satisfaction.
He’d created hate anew of “the other.”
“Those women – those ‘colored’ ones. They’re different than us. They hate America. They are dividers. They’re freedom haters. They want to destroy everything good about us…”
On and on went Trump’s subsequent tweets and the Republican commentary in his wake.
Welcome to… 1950 all over again. Trump the Great Divider is throwing his reddest meat to his base – ever.
But let’s think this through before we start “throwing all the dark, disturbing folks out.”
Let’s just pause and think about all these folks of color who disturb — and delight our lives and shake our way of thinking and living…
Muhammad Ali – “The Greatest.” – Send him back! Thurgood Marshall – Send him back! Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Send him back! Jesse Owens, – Send him back! Frederick Douglas – Send him back! Carl Lewis – Send him back!
Rosa Parks – Send her back! Harriet Tubman – Send her back! Hattie McDaniel – Send her back! Eric Garcetti – Send him back! Cesar Chavez – Send him back! Billie Holiday – Send her back! Oprah Winfrey – Send her back!
Magic Johnson – Send him back! Salma Hayek – Send her back! Matt Moore – Send him back! Eva Longoria – Send her back! Serena Williams – Send her back! Tiger Woods – Send him back!
Beyonce – Send her back! W.E.B. DuBois – Send him back! Whoopi Goldberg – Send her back! Medgar Evers – Send him back! Reggie Jackson – Send him back! Wilt Chamberlain – Send him back! Michael Jordan – Send him back!
Alex Haley – Send him back! Jackie Joyner-Kersee – Send her back! Shirley Chisholm – Send her back! Linda Ronstadt – Send her back! Lorraine Hansberry – Send her back!
Martin Luther King – Send him back! Barack Obama – Send him back! Tony Romo – Send him back! Fernando Valenzuela – Send him back! Ted Williams – Send him back!
Oscar De Le Hoya – Send him back! Lee Travino – Send him back! Jessica Alba – Send her back! Lynda Carter – Send her back! Edward Olmos – Send him back! Vicki Carr – Send her back! Joan Baez – Send her back!
Bill Richardson – Send him back!
And you or me? Sooner or later some crowd will find something “different” about us and we’ll be on the “send away” list…
This whole thing sounds so very absurd when viewed at the overwhelming contribution to America our people of color – in all their variations, names, backgrounds – make.
Indeed, Barack is right. We really are one. And if we ever did, “send them back,” we’d be a mighty white, mighty plain, mighty dumb, and mighty boring America.
“Send her back?” If this still sounds OK to you, check your soul in at the racist counter.
“Send her back?”
If that’s not deplorable, shortsighted, racist, and stupid, I don’t know what is. Reject such completely.
Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006.