The Squad v. The Mob

I wrote this essay for The Guardian:

So now we know what the 2020 election will look like. It will be “the Squad” versus the mob. On one side is thoughtful and engaged criticism coupled with a progressive legislative agenda. On the other side is a dangerous throng spewing cheap insults, racist taunts and explicit threats.

The four Democratic congresswomen known as the Squad – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota – held a dignified news conference on Tuesday, responding to Donald Trump’s racist attacks on them. The mob was in full force on Wednesday night, during a campaign rally staged by the president in Greenville, North Carolina. At that event, Trump shamelessly slandered the Squad, labeling them “hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down”.

There is probably no better definition of this president, a man who has repeatedly proven that he is a hate-filled extremist who is constantly trying to tear our country down. But never mind that for now.

Instead, let’s reflect on what happened while Trump slung his barbs and accusations at Somali-born Ilhan Omar. The crowd began chanting. “Send her back!” they yelled. “Send her back!”

This is frightening. Yes, it recalls the 2016 chants against of “Lock her up” directed against Hillary Clinton, but those were frightening, too! And, as the New York Times’s Charles Blow noted on Twitter, “‘send’ is a massive leap forward from voluntarily ‘leave’”.

What we have here is a mob calling for the deportation of a sitting congresswoman, and they are laughing and smiling while doing so. Trump, meanwhile, basks silently in the racist glow of their words…

Read the rest here.

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