On July 14th, 2019, President Trump posted series of 3 tweets which targeted Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and encouraged them to "go back ... [to the] places from which they came", despite 3 of the 4 being born in the United States, and all 4 being US Citizens.

Direct link to tweet:

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. 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. 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!

This statement has been widely characterized as racist, including by the House of Representatives who passed a resolution condemning it, but it has also been defended by many Republicans, who argue that there's nothing racist about it.

What arguments have public figures given in defense of these tweets? Published statements are preferred, ideally with explanation of the context behind these arguments.

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    The real question may be if the tweet is racist under some common definition of racism. It may depend on the used definition though. Jul 17, 2019 at 18:14
  • 1
    @Trilarion Of course, that's the whole point of the question. I'm trying to get an idea of how different people can interpret this statement to get such different conclusions. Any ideas how to edit it to make that more clear?
    – divibisan
    Jul 17, 2019 at 18:17
  • 3
    @divibisan What do you expect? Nobody likes to be called racist, even not racists. Without any referral to a definition of racism, you will just get a random statement. You could ask for it, but you may not learn much from it. However, if you want that, ask: "What reasons have Republicans given as to why the tweet is not racist?" That should be ontopic. Jul 17, 2019 at 19:04
  • 6
    To those voting to close, I'm not sure how giving a platform for Trump's defenders to explain their position is an attempt to "discredit a specific political cause". I'd be interested in any suggestions to address your concerns
    – divibisan
    Jul 17, 2019 at 22:33
  • 5
    Is the tweet racist? We might look to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission who is responsible for enforcing federal laws on discrimination for a definition. Under "Harassment Based on National Origin" it says "Examples of potentially unlawful conduct include insults, taunting, or ethnic epithets, such as making fun of a person's foreign accent or comments like, "Go back to where you came from, " whether made by supervisors or by co-workers" eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/immigrants-facts.cfm
    – David D
    Jul 19, 2019 at 16:00

3 Answers 3


In short they're basically spinning it as move along, nothing to see, while throwing counter accusations at the Democrats:

This time, while Democrats and some independents may see clear signs of racial intolerance woven throughout Trump’s tweets, Republicans are hearing a different message, said Vincent Hutchings, a political science and African-American studies professor at the University of Michigan.

“To Republicans, Trump is simply saying: ‘Hey, if you don’t like America, you can leave,” Hutchings said. “That is not at all controversial. If you already support Trump, then it’s very easy to interpret his comments that way.”

By criticizing liberal members of the House, Trump is “doing exactly what Republicans want him to do,” Hutchings said. “He’s taking on groups that they oppose.”

Here's for instance Kellyanne Conway:

Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said on "America's Newsroom" Tuesday that Democrats' claims of racism, sexism and xenophobia against President Trump have become "tired," adamantly disagreeing with her husband's labeling of Trump as a "racist."

Or a random church in Virginia:

Virginia church posts 'America: Love or Leave It' sign days after Trump's 'go back' tweet to lawmakers

Or Ben Carson:

Ben Carson defends Trump amid feud with House Dems: 'He's not a racist'

Also, crowds at Trump rallies are now chanting "Send her back!".

There are some dissenting voices (example; two more) -- but not that many.

  • 3
    One might ask whether anyone suggesting that people who don't like the current administration should leave had themselves considered leaving during the previous administration.
    – phoog
    Jul 19, 2019 at 16:04
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    Furthermore, discussing the "love it or leave it" message ignores the real problem, which is the assumption that three native-born US citizens, two of whom probably have more US- citizen ancestors than does the president, "came from" somewhere else.
    – phoog
    Jul 19, 2019 at 16:15
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    @phoog: No quibbles, I merely wanted to phrase it in as factual a way as I could so as to not attract the gazillions of downvotes that invariably accompany answers to questions like OP's. To your point I'd merely add that, besides "send her back" being a tried and tested racist trope that has a hair raising history, "love it or leave it" runs counter to the very idea of democratic participation and 1st amendment rights. Jul 19, 2019 at 17:24

An article by The Intelligencer sums up the reactions of Republicans to Trumps's rants.

It includes:

  • Backing the President by attacking the liberals just as vehemently as he did, but without the racial/misogynist/xenophobic flavour of the shots:

We all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communists.
Lindsey Graham, Fox & Friends

  • Suggesting Trump's rants should rather aim at politics:

Aim higher! We don’t need to know anything about them personally, talk about their policies

Just because the so-called squad constantly insults and attacks the president isn’t a reason to adopt their unacceptable tactics. There is plenty to say about how destructive House Democrats’ policies would be for our economy, our health care system, and our security
Roy Blunt

  • Avoid questions on the subject, seemingly afraid both of being associated with the rants, or of looking unfaithful to the President:

I’m working as hard as I can to reduce health-care costs. I’m not giving a daily commentary on the president’s tweets.
Lamar Alexander

I haven’t read that but I’ll check it out.
Richard Shelby

  • The article also mentions that: "When forced to express discomfort, they will disassociate his latest outrage from his character. Trump may have said something racist, his allies will concede, but Trump cannot be a racist.", but it doesn't provide a direct quotation to sustain it.

  • One Republican Representative is quoted as using the epithet "racist" about the tweets.

Trump’s tweets from this weekend were racist and he should apologize.
Mike Turner

Yet when the Democrats in the House proposed a resolution to condemn Trump’s tweets as racist, he still opposed it. Only four Republican Representatives (Indiana’s Susan Brooks, Pennsylvania’s Brian Fitzpatrick, Texas’s Will Hurd and Michigan’s Fred Upton) voted in favor.

Indeed, Will Hurd had expressed a similar opinion:

I think those tweets are racist, and xenophobic. They're also inaccurate. The four women he's referring to are actually citizens of the United States. Three of the four were born here. It's also behavior that's unbecoming of the leader of the free world. He should be talking about things that unite, not divide us.


This question is based on one big implicit assumption: those tweets are considered as racist and really problematic by people for whose votes Trump is fighting. Which seems not to be the case. Seriously, the missing part of the puzzle that the seriously offended people who see everywhere racist undertones are generally anyway hard-line Democrats, so from Trump's perspective making them more vivid would not change anything in his incoming election.

From Republican party there is not even much point in going in to damage control mode. Trump strategy seems to be to boost standing of the most radical faction of Democratic Party, because his main hope is to get as his main opponents people, who in his opinion would be even less palatable for swing voters than him.

EDIT, clarification:

  • the statement could be interpreted by supporters as more or less harmless "love or leave" and claims about racist undertones as merely evidence that some oversensitive people see racism everywhere (race is nowhere mentioned explicitly, and could be only very indirectly inferred from those unsuccessful countries, while neglecting alternative explanation that it has nothing to do with race, but is simply matter of failed policies)
  • regardless of that, I don't think that they care about the whole issue at all, and consider it as pointless bickering of politicians (with heroic efforts of Nancy Pelosi to pass a resolution condemning those twits, may possibly even consider that the opposing party is going big on pointless bickering)

Simple check: Trump already said on multiple occasion nasty stuff, that was supposed to end his political carrier. Nevertheless it somehow worked, at least so far, so maybe he has some gut feeling what is acceptable for his electorate.

  • 5
    Are you saying that Trump's defenders don't consider this statement to be racist (in which case, I'd be interested in why), or that their own beliefs and values are irrelevant since they're approaching this purely through a lens of political strategy?
    – divibisan
    Jul 18, 2019 at 19:33
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    "Love it or leave it" from the MAGA camp strikes me as a hilariously ironic double standard. Never mind that it's not even remotely close to the words he used, as I would expect a "very stable genius" like him to know how to use words that are closer to his allegedly intended meaning. Before and after becoming President, Trump has spent significant amounts of time grousing about the government; why didn't he just leave it if he didn't love it, then? Or right now? Jul 19, 2019 at 9:20
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    @Shadow1024 I understand that you still don't see the false equivalence. The American Left, as a rule, doesn't condone/overlook/treat as 'mostly fine' the discriminating views of Muslims, even if conservatives like to act as if they do. Simply ignoring the criticism because it's been a given for long enough that the mainstream media doesn't cover it anymore, doesn't make your point. If you are looking for double standards in the left, I'm sure you'll find them, but this is not one of them.
    – DonFusili
    Jul 19, 2019 at 14:24
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    But it's not just "love it or leave it"; it's "go back where you came from," when three of them came from the US and two of them presumably have more US citizens among their recent ancestors than does the president. The racism is not in the "love it or leave it" sentiment but in the idea that those three came from somewhere else.
    – phoog
    Jul 19, 2019 at 16:08
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    While it certainly may be true that Trump is playing to his base and this won't be a career-ender, neither one has anything to do with how other Republicans are defending the tweet. "They don't consider it important enough to defend" is a perfectly viable answer, but if that's what you're trying to say, you should edit this to focus on that.
    – Bobson
    Jul 19, 2019 at 21:38

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