Unless you have been a hermit you will not have failed to marvelled at perhaps the biggest ‘David and Goliath’ battle unfolding in the US, writes our Editor Anver Versi.
I am referring of course to Donald Trump’s malicious and openly racist tweets against The Squad – a posse of four women of colour, all Congresswomen, who have called out and challenged his bizarre policies and taken him to task in the best tradition of American democratic debate.
His particular ire has been aroused by the youngest of the lot, Ilhan Omar who escaped with her family from Somalia and spend several years in refugee camp in Kenya before being taken to the US – where against all odds, she became the first Muslim to be elected to the US Congress.
Trump, as we all know, dismissed the whole of Africa as full of ‘sh***hole’ countries worthy of nothing more than disdain by the most powerful country in the world. That someone who was originally from one of these countries would stand up to him and poke holes in his utterances and say what the whole world knows is true, seems to have driven the Orange One into apoplexy.
Unable to counter the cold logic of her opinions, he fell back on the tried and tested racist meme against immigrants in Western countries. He said of The Squad: “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. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough.”
Three of The Squad were born in the US and Omar is as bona fide a US citizen as anyone else in that country. Which country did he expect them to go back to? The US?
Trump’s own grandparents were migrants from Germany and Scotland who arrived looking for a better life; his first and third wives were immigrants from The Czech Republic and Slovenia who only became US citizens after marrying him. Trump spent most of his later life criticising virtually every aspect of American life and called Barack Obama a foreigner pretending to be born in the US.
He claimed it was his right and duty to do so as an American citizen but when others exercise the same right and duty and on far more substantive issues, he asks them to apologise to the country and that if they don’t like it, they can leave. On that basis, he should have left the US at least 40 years ago.
But of course, the subtext is that the US really belongs to White America and it is okay for them to argue and discuss and debate but not people of colour – they should shut up and like it or lump it. Trump is deliberately playing the racist card to try and win the next election. The parallels, including crowds chanting “Send her home! Send her home!” with one Adolf Hitler has not escaped concerned commentators.
Beyond US election politics
Ilhan Omar and her colleagues know the score but they refuse to be silenced, intimidated or marginalised. They, and an increasing number of serious thinkers around the world, know what is at stake and it goes beyond US election politics.
The US is a nation of immigrants – the only indigenous people are the Native Americans. The diversity of the population is what gave the country its remarkable energy and innovation. It is a mini version of the world. And either all races are equal or none are.
Trump’s attempt to leverage the White race (some of the White race to be accurate) in a position of ‘natural’ superiority by dismissing the rest as not American enough, is a very dangerous ploy.
Frenzied shouts of “Send her home! Second her home!” aimed at Omar; the violent intimidation by White Supremacist gangs; the inhuman treatment of refugees at borders; the concepts of racial purity – all echo Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.
In essence, what we are seeing is the old fashioned and ancient battle between good and evil – between the sowers of discord and violence and those who seek justice, harmony, the truth and compassion. It is not confined to the US; instances are rearing their heads in Europe, in Latin America, in Asia and of course in Africa.
But the drama in the US is what brings this conflict to a sharp and global point and it is a matter of pride that leading the charge on the good side is a Daughter of Africa.