Outrage, expressions of support for Rep. Ilhan Omar after 'send her back' chant at Trump rally

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“Send her back” chants erupted at a Trump rally as the president criticized Rep. Ilhan Omar for her “contempt” for the “hard-working Americans.” Storyful

WASHINGTON – Outrage and expressions of support for Rep. Ilhan Omar flooded social media after a crowd of President Donald Trump’s supporters chanted “send her back” when he attacked the Minnesota Democrat at a rally Wednesday in North Carolina

Trump called out Omar and three other liberal congresswomen, all of them minorities, who he says “hate our country.” He has leveled attacks against the four women, known as “the Squad,” every day this week, beginning with a series of tweets on Sunday telling them to “go back” to their countries of origin that were later condemned as racist in a House resolution

Omar, who arrived in the U.S. more than 20 years ago after her family fled war-torn Somalia, is the only one of the four congresswomen not born in the U.S. On Wednesday, Trump attacked Omar for comments she made about Israel that were condemned as anti-Semitic and remarks that were perceived as dismissive of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He also repeated somefalse claims about Omar that have circulated online. 

“And she looks down with contempt on the hard-working Americans, saying that ignorance is pervasive in many parts of this country,” Trump said. 

“Send her back,” some in the crowd began to chant.

In response, Omar quoted from, “Still I Rise,” a poem by Maya Angelou, which reads, “You may kill me with your hatefulness. But still, like air, I’ll rise.” 

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A number of Democratic presidential candidates were among those who denounced the incident.  

“#IStandWithIlhan and am proud to work with her in Congress,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. “Trump is stoking the most despicable and disturbing currents in our society. And that very hatred and racism fuels him. We must fight together to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of our country.” 

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“Tonight on a stage the President returned to bigotry once again. Inciting hatred – it’s what he likes to do,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

“These chants don’t happen by accident,” said former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke. “They are the product of a president who sees our diversity not as a strength, but as a weakness.” 

Sen. Kamala Harris of California said, “It’s vile. It’s cowardly. It’s xenophobic. It’s racist. It defiles the office of the President. And I won’t share it here. It’s time to get Trump out of office and unite the country.” 

“Four days ago, the President of the United States suggested that four elected members of Congress, all women of color, ought to ‘go back’ to the countries ‘from which they came.’ And every day since he has repeated this ugly, racist refrain,” tweeted former Vice President Joe Biden. 

“We’ve heard it before throughout our history, but it has no place in America in 2019,” Biden said

“This kind of politics, sadly, we’ve seen before,” said Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey on MSNBC. He compared Trump’s rhetoric to that of the 19th century anti-immigrant American Party – commonly known as the “Know-Nothing Party” – and to that of the 20th century segregationist George Wallace. 

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York equated it to the “lock her up” chant about Trump’s 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton that was regularly heard at his other rallies. She also compared it to Trump’s infamous remarks on a 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording as expressions of “contempt for women and anyone who threatens this president’s fragile ego.” 

“He should be afraid. We are his worst nightmare. And we will beat him,” Gillibrand said. 

“This president is desperate,” tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. “Calling out his racism, xenophobia, and misogyny is imperative.” 

Warren said the president is “trying to divide us and distract from his own crimes, and from his deeply unpopular agenda of letting the wealthy and well-connected rip off the country.” And she called for his impeachment

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Omar “makes our country and our Congress better.” 

“The hate Donald Trump is stoking in North Carolina tonight is odious and un-American,” he said. 

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said, “We denounce and reject the president’s racist demagoguery – without letting him deny attention to today’s extremely important vote on the minimum wage.” 

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., called the chant “horrific, racist garbage.” 

“I have just one question after the president’s rally last night,” tweeted billionaire Tom Steyer. “Why aren’t racism and inciting a mob against an American & sitting Congresswoman impeachable offenses?”

Author Marianne Williamson said on CNN that Trump’s speech was “dangerous” and that it was very important “for all patriotic Americans, whether we’re on the left or the right, to be very clear that we don’t do that in America. Our political opponents are not our enemies.” 

“I challenge every Republican to watch @realDonaldTrump’s rally last night, complete with chants of ‘Send her back’, and ask if that is the Party of Lincoln and Reagan we signed up for,” tweeted former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, Trump’s lone challenger for the Republican nomination. 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said it was “chilling and horrifying” to watch Trump “spreading racist and xenophobic propaganda” about Omar while the crowd chanted “send her back.” 

“There is no place for such racism in our public discourse,” he said. 

Sen. Brian Schwartz, D-Hawaii, said the “send her back” chant was worse than “lock her up” because “they don’t even have the false pretext of alleged corrupt behavior.”

“They are just telling an American with whom they disagree to go back to Africa.” 

Like Gillibrand, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., saw the chant as an expression of misogyny and compared it to other insults Trump had leveled at women over the years.  

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., said that if Omar “was white they would not use that racist trope.” 

Weld was not the only Republican who spoke out against the chant.

Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., said on Twitter that even though “it was brief” and Omar had a “great disdain” for the U.S. and Israel, he “struggled” with the chant. He said the focus should be on Omar’s positions and “not phrasing that’s painful to our friends in the minority communities.” 

“A chant like ‘Send her back!’ is ugly and dangerous, and it is the inevitable consequence of President Trump’s demagoguery,” said Rep. Justin Amash, who recently left the Republican Party. and has called for Trump’s impeach “This is how history’s worst episodes begin. We must not allow this man to take us to such a place.”

“It saddens me beyond belief that the standard-bearer for the Republican Party, my Party, is making ‘Send her back’ his re-election rallying cry. It’s so ugly. It’s so un-American. It just saddens me beyond belief,” said former Rep. Joe Walsh. 

Guy Benson, the editor of the conservative website Townhall, said it was “an appalling chant.” 

“‘Send her back’ conservatism is not a conservatism worth defending,” said conservative commentator Bill Kristol. 

Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt called it a “nativist, terrible chant” and “electoral suicide.” 

“We need to be better than chanting #SendHerBack,” tweeted self-described Christian conservative Carmine Sabia. “Rep. Ilhan Omar is an American citizen. A self righteous, America hating, anti semitic, bigoted, socialist citizen. But a citizen nonetheless. We do not deport citizens. Disagree with her but do not chant that.”

But some conservatives pushed back against the criticism. And an #IStandWithPresTrump hashtag was competing with #IStandWithIlhan as a trending hashtag on Twitter on Thursday morning. 

“Never-Trumpers and radical Democrats misdiagnosing the audience as racist deplorables because they’re too elitist to even attempt to understand Trump culture hyperbole,” tweeted conservative commentator Candace Owens. 

“Conclusion: Guaranteed re-election for #MAGA.” 

Here are some other reactions from celebrities, pundits and politicians: 

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