President Donald Trump launched a bizarre, racist attack against a group of progressive Democratic congresswomen, saying they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” The president didn’t mention anyone by name, merely aiming his ire at “’Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen.” But there seems to be little doubt he was referring to members of what has become known as “the Squad” in Congress, which includes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” the president wrote on Twitter.
Trump went on to reference the recent tensions between members of “the Squad” and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, suggesting that the Democratic leader would be happy to see the progressive lawmakers leave the country. “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,” Trump added. “These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”
Trump’s attack appeared to be particularly aimed at Omar, who is a native of Somalia, and perhaps even Tlaib, whose family is Palestinian. But Tlaib was born in the United States and Omar is an American citizen.
It didn’t take long for Pelosi to respond to the president’s tweet, writing that when Trump “tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again.” In a subsequent tweet, Pelosi said she rejected Trump’s “xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation.”
Other Democrats also condemned the president’s message. “A racist tweet from a racist president,” tweeted New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, the assistant speaker of the House. Lujan sent that tweet after an appearance on Fox News Sunday. in which he also condemned the president’s message. “That is a racist tweet. Telling people to go back where they came from?” he said. “I think that’s wrong.”
Support work like this for just $1
Slate is covering the stories that matter to you. Become a Slate Plus member to support our work. Your first month is only $1.