A day after Donald Trump tried to distance himself from racist chants heard at one of his campaign rallies, the US president praised the crowd as one full of “incredible patriots”.
The president on Friday again ramped up his attacks against US Representative Ilhan Omar, saying he was “unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country”.
He also said the people at the North Carolina rally, many of whom chanted “Send her back” while Trump paused, are “incredible people” and “incredible patriots”.
On Thursday, however, Trump attempted to distance himself from the same crowd, saying he wasn’t “happy with” the chant and he disagreed with it. He falsely said he tried to stop the crowd.
His comments came just days after he attacked Omar and three other minority congresswomen – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley – in a series of racist tweets in which he told the four women to go back to where they came from. All four are United States citizens and all but Omar were born in the US. Omar came to the country as a Somali refugee when she was 12 years old.
On Thursday, Omar called Trump “fascist” and said she was “not deterred” and “not frightened”.
“We are going to continue to be a nightmare to this president because his policies are a nightmare to us. We are not deterred. We are not frightened,” she told a crowd of supporters who greeted her as she arrived in her home state of Minnesota.
After the tweets, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives condemned Trump’s “racist comments that have legitimised and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of colour”.
Trump maintains his comments were “not racist”. He said that those who are not happy in the US can leave, despite Trump himself having repeatedly spoken out against past US policies and administrations.
Many have come to Omar’s defence under #IStandWithIlhan.
Responding to Trump’s racist tweets earlier this week, Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Pressley said they “will not be silenced“. They also said that as “the squad” they would continue to put the focus back on the issues they feel need attention, including immigration, healthcare and education.
“This is simply a disruption, a distraction from the callous, chaotic and corrupt culture of this administration,” Pressley said on Tuesday. “We want to get to the business of the American people and why were sent here: reducing the costs of prescription drugs, addressing the public health crisis and epidemic that is gun violence, addressing the racial wealth gap and yes, making sure that families stay together.
Ocasio-Cortez warned on Thursday that Trump’s attacks “put millions of Americans in danger”.
“This is not just about threats to individual members of Congress, but it is about creating a volatile environment in this country through violent rhetoric that puts anyone, like Ilhan, anyone who believes in the rights of all people in danger and I think that he has a responsibility for that environment,” she said.
After Trump tweeted an edited video to suggest Omar was dismissive of the September 11, 2001, attacks earlier this year, the congresswoman reported an increase in death threats.
In April, a US man was arrested on suspicion of leaving racist, homophobic and Islamophobic messages filled with death threats on the voicemails of several Democratic members of Congress, including Tlaib.