The Worst Responses to Trump’s Racist Tweets

No YOU’RE the racist!

Ron Sachs/CNP via Zuma

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While President Donald Trump continues to double down on his racist weekend tweetstorm, his fiercest defenders are contorting themselves to try to explain that, actually, those comments weren’t racist. 

On Sunday, Trump unleashed a string of attacks on four freshman Democratic congresswomen of color—Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, collectively known as “The Squad”—urging them to “go back” to the “crime infested” countries they came from. (Only one of them, Omar, was born abroad.) It immediately sparked outrage from all over the world, uniting Democrats (whose very public feud was the original source of Trump’s tweets) and causing #RacistInChief to trend on Twitter. 

Trump has since doubled down on his tweets, saying that he doesn’t need to apologize for anything and that, actually, he deserves an apology from the congresswomen he attacked. And his people have his back. Here’s a roundup of some of the worst defenses of Trump’s tweets: 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.): On Fox & Friends, Graham defended the president by calling Ocasio-Cortez and the rest of The Squad anti-American and anti-Semitic communists. (Trump quote-tweeted Graham’s comments shortly after they aired.) 

Trump 2020 campaign deputy communications director Matt Wolking: Wolking emphasized that the president said that the congresswomen should “come back” after telling them to “go back” to the countries they came from, and anyone who doesn’t include that coda is a liar: 

Acting US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli: Asked by CNN on Monday morning if he thought the tweets were racist, Cuccinelli claimed he hadn’t seen the tweets yet: 

Except that on Sunday, he was just on CNN, where he was read the tweets: 

Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.): Harris told a reporter that Trump’s tweets “obviously weren’t racist” because the president was telling the congresswomen to go back to their home districts, not countries:

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.): Blunt also backed the president, but skirted the question of racism and instead attacked the Democratic Party in general:

Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence: Short went on to Fox News to let viewers know that Trump can’t have “racist motives” because he appointed Elaine Chao, who is Asian American, as his transportation secretary: 

Brit Hume: Then there’s this academic argument from Fox News’ Hume that Trump’s tweets don’t meet the “standard definition” of racist, so everyone should stop using that word: 

He then cited Merriam-Webster’s definition of racism… 

…but neglected to mention the other three definitions: 

Bill Mitchell: The worst defense came from Mitchell, a right-wing radio host, who argued that Trump’s tweets weren’t racist, and you’re racist for thinking that:  

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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