Recently, President Donald Trump sent a series of tweets raging against ““Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe,” and asking “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” While his tweet never names names, it’s assumed he’s referring to four freshmen congresswomen – all of them whom are American citizens, three of four were born in America, and all are women of color.
Congress voted to condemn the tweets on Tuesday, July 16, but Wisconsin’s 7th District Representative Sean Duffy, along with the other four Republican Wisconsin Representatives, voted against the resolution. Duffy stated the president’s remarks could not be racist because they did not cite anyone’s race.
“I see nothing that references anybody’s race. Not a thing! I don’t see anyone’s name referenced in the tweets,” Duffy said.
As proof that the statement “go back to where you came from” is indeed racially motivated, I would like to quote the late, great Oneida orator Charlie Hill: “A Redneck told me to go back where I came from, so I put a Teepee in his backyard.”
I would also like to remind Rep. Duffy that during the spear fishing protests in the early 1990’s, spearfishing opponents would often have signs or yell “go back to where you came from” to Anishinaabe fishermen exercising their treaty rights. That statement was often joined by others like “Save a walleye, spear an Indian” and less polite versions of that.
Let’s be clear, the Anishinaabe were able to practice their treaty rights, because they were where they were from. They didn’t’ travel from a distant country, they were in their original territory practicing their legally reaffirmed rights. To tell them to “go back to where they came from” was to insist that they had no right to be in the place where the were from.
It’s not a big leap to assume that Trump was directing an age-old racial trope at Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan because of their races and not because their origins. He was insisting that they had no right to be in Congress, to be in the media’s eye, to exercise their duties as elected Representatives or as American citizens.
Rep. Duffy has chosen to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the racial vitriol that Trump habitually spews on his Twitter account and other places, labling his four fellow representatives as “un-American.” Hopefully, if Duffy runs for office again, his fellow Wisconsinites will tell him to go back to Hayward, Wisconsin from whence he came.