Our president is like the lout in the forest preserve.
Remember that guy? On a day in June last year, he berated a woman in Caldwell Woods on the Northwest Side for half an hour for wearing a shirt with the Puerto Rican flag on it.
“You should not be wearing that in the United States of America,” he yelled, poking his finger in her face.
The lout is up for trial next month on a hate crime.
But on Sunday and Monday, it was the president of the United States behaving like a loudmouth bigot, taking to Twitter with no more class or brains. He outdid even himself.
It’s bad enough when anybody gets all racist in a forest preserve or on Twitter. It’s miserable when it’s the president. He sets a tone for the country, God forbid.
Come to think of it, after a video of the lout in the forest preserve went viral last summer, a lot of people shrugged and said he was just following the president’s lead.
We live in dark times.
President Donald Trump on Sunday told four members of Congress — all women and none white — to go back to the “broken and crime infested” countries they came from.
The talking heads on state TV, Fox News, made jokes about it. Republicans stared at their shoes. And much of the country hardly noticed Trump was talking more than ever like a racist because they long ago grew numb to his bull.
We are reminded of how a handful of white supremacists established a clubhouse in the early 1970s near Chicago’s Marquette Park. The neighbors, for the most part, shunned them, with their silly uniforms. And after awhile the goofs were reduced to background noise, like particularly obnoxious birds.
That’s the thing about Chicago — we’ve seen our share of racism and bigotry.
So we know the game Trump is playing when he tweets that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York (whose parents are from Puerto Rico), Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota (who was born in Somalia) Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan (whose parents are Palestinian immigrants) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts (who is black) should “go back” to where “they came.”
If you are Puerto Rican in Chicago, there’s good chance somebody has told you to “go back to Puerto Rico!” If you are of Arabic descent, somebody’s told you to “go back to Egypt!” If you are black, somebody’s told you to “go back to Africa!” No matter that your forefathers were brought here 300 years ago in slave ships.
At the dinner table in good families across the city — and across the country — children are taught better. We don’t talk like that, they are told. Treat everybody the same, they are told. We are all Americans, they are told.
Maybe little Donald missed those dinners.
He was raised to work in his father’s real estate business, which in 1973 was sued by the federal government for refusing to rent to black tenants. The future president, without the company admitting guilt, signed an agreement not to discriminate.
Trump has a long history of sounding and acting like a bigot. He reportedly ordered the black employees off the floors of his casinos when he wanted to make a good impression. He is quoted in a book by a former top employee, John O’Donnell, of saying that “laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.”
As president, he called for a complete ban on Muslim immigrants. He argued that a judge of Mexican heritage could not be fair to him. He refused to criticize white supremacists at a 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, saying there were “very fine people on both sides.”
We have never met a very fine person at a white power rally.
Trump got hammered on Monday for his Sunday morning tweets. Even, belatedly, by some Republicans.
But what has been his response?
To fire back, as is his way, with more lies and ugliness.
The president would have you believe — as expressed in his own words and those he retweeted from others — that the four liberal Congress members he attacked on Sunday are “anti-American” and “anti-Semitic” Communists who “hate” Israel and their “own country.”
Well, at least he concedes the United States is their own country.
The 2020 presidential election, and Donald Trump’s defeat, can’t come soon enough.
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