You Should Be Ashamed, Mr. President, But You Are Not

Laura Peralta-Schulte
July 18, 2019

We have a white supremacist in the White House. The proof is in front of our eyes:  President Trump’s racially divisive political history, his use of race baiting as an arc throughout his 2016 campaign, cruel policies that disproportionately impact people of color, and repeated offensive statements while in office all reveal a consistent belief in white, Christian nationalism.

Trump’s recent tweets aimed at four Members of Congress who are women of color–Representatives Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), and Rashida Tlaib (MI-13)–telling them to “go back to where they came from” and “if they are not happy living in the United States, they can leave” fits squarely into his world view. Worse, in signals the continuation of a divisive political strategy to separate the people of the United States by race, religion, class, and status. President Trump’s supporters responded to these tweets and the President’s continued criticism of Representative Ilhan Omar by chanting “Send her back” at a campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina.

We cannot excuse President Trump’s blatantly racist, xenophobic, un-American behavior. His words are crass and demean the Presidency. They violate the very notion of patriotism and debase the values that this country claims to hold dear in word and in deed. This behavior serves to legitimize white supremacy and if the President can say these things without censure, without consequence, without people, especially white people, calling him out, then his allies and supporters feel justified. So, Mr. President, we at NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice call you out. You are a bigot and danger to our country, to our Constitution, and to our future.

The question is, what can we do to hold the President accountable?

The answer lies in the words of the four new Members of Congress affectionately known as “The Squad” at the press conference they held after the President’s tweets. Their message: Do not let this racist, xenophobic President distract you. Representative Ayanna Pressley said, ”This disruption is a distraction from the issues of concern to the American people, their failure to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, their failure to promote affordable housing, their failure to effectively deal with issues like healthcare and gun violence.” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez echoed Representative Pressley and said, “We love all children in this country, that’s why we are fighting for good education for all children. We love all people and that is why we are fighting for healthcare for all. We will get back to the business of American people who have been marginalize and do the work they sent us here to do.  We will not be silent.”

Let the people say Amen.

Everyone in our nation has a role to play in calling out white supremacy when we see it. We also have a sacred spiritual call as people of faith to actively engage in a mission of pursuing Gospel justice on behalf of those who have been marginalized, those who have been excluded, and those who have been denied justice.

There is legislative advocacy we can do this year to ensure that Congress funds Community Health Centers so people can access healthcare. We must stop Congress from continuing to fund cages for immigrant children and families. We must press Congress to pass real prescription drug reform.  Together, we can honor the request of our newest elected officials to keep our eye on the prize now and get ready for the business of electing candidates who share our mission in 2020.