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At President Trump’s Wednesday rally, his constituents chanted “send her back!” about Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota). On Thursday, as she arrived back in Minneapolis, Omar was greeted with a different three-word chant: “Welcome home, Ilhan.”

Omar has been an American citizen since before she turned 18 after coming to America as a child. She calls Minneapolis home. Despite this, last weekend Trump called for her, along with the other young progressive congresswomen of color collectively called “the Squad” by supporters, to “go back” to where they came from. Omar is the only member of the Squad to not be born in the United States.

The other three Squadmates are Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Rashida Talib (D-Michigan) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts).

Trump’s remarks have been roundly (and justly) criticized as racist and even acted as the catalyst that made a lifelong Republican Texan jurist publicly leave the Grand Ole Party earlier this week. But his tweets had amazing success among his loyal followers. He has followed up with a callback to early George W. Bush-era “love America or leave it” talking points which have also played well with his base. Then, as now, loving America came to mean loving the president and his policies — that includes Trump’s racism.

This attack and the following chants of “send her back” are eerily similar to Trump’s 2016 campaign strategy of threatening to jail political rival Hillary Clinton and inspiring chants of “lock her up” among his supporters. He has disavowed the chants about Omar, but it is worth remembering he also distanced himself from the chants aimed at Clinton. Trump has also not backtracked on his initial tweets igniting this week’s political firestorm.

“We are not deterred, we are not frightened, we are ready,” Omar said to constituents in Minneapolis. “We are going to continue to be a nightmare to this president.”

Omar further expanded on her thoughts about the flurry of attacks against the Squad and herself in particular, and didn’t mince words. She characterized Trump as a racist and fascist leader.

“We have said this president is racist. We have condemned his racist remarks. I believe he is fascist,” she said. “I want to remind people that this is what the president and his supporters have done [to] our country. This is supposed to be a country where we allow democratic debate and dissent to take place.”

It could be argued that love for America and wanting to better it are not ideas at odds with one another but go hand in hand, and that Ilhan Omar — being an immigrant — knows this all too well. Trump himself used the phrase “American carnage” in his inauguration. It’s also worth a mention that loving America and loving Trump have been conceptualized as different things.

For Ilhan Omar, going home isn’t about not loving America, its something deeply tied to a love for America. Going home means going to the Twin Cities in Minnesota. And her constituents are happy to welcome her back.

 

Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

 

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