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President Trump shouldn't divide our nation

President Donald Trump speaks on the South Lawn

President Donald Trump speaks on the South Lawn of the White House on Monday. Credit: AP / Alex Brandon

Speaking on the White House lawn Monday, President Donald Trump continued his racist rants against four members of the House of Representatives, saying they “hate the United States.” At a news conference later, however, the respect and love of these women for their country shone, perfectly framing Trump’s childish strategy to denounce opponents personally because he can’t debate policy.

Trump, plagued by static poll numbers, unleashed a Twitter assault steeped in racism, sexism and vile prejudices Sunday. His attack was un-American, degrading one of this nation’s most exceptional attributes, a willingness to welcome people of any race, hue or religion.

“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 .  .  . 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.”

Trump has not denied that the four citizens he was referring to are Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York (born in the Bronx), Rashida Tlaib of Michigan (born in Detroit), Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts (born in Cincinnati) and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota (born in Somalia in 1982, came to the United States in 1992, became a citizen in 2000).

Ocasio-Cortez is free to say “how our government is to be run” because she won election by 110,318 to 17,762. Tlaib won 165,355 to 22,186. Pressley had no opponent, and won 98.3 percent of the vote. Omar won 267,703 to 74,440.

As much as we sometimes disagree with the political views of these members of Congress, no one has more of a right to express opinions than they do.

So what point was Trump making when he attempted to delegitimize these women? Was it to further cleave the the Democratic Party as it struggles to find a path between moderates and progressives? Clearly so.

It was more of the same bigotry that led him to make the farcical accusations that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, that a U.S. judge of Mexican descent cannot be impartial, and that people coming here from Mexico are drug dealers and rapists.

GOP officials were mostly muted in response to their leader implying that Muslims, African Americans and Hispanics are not real Americans even if born here and should leave because of their negative views. If negative views of America were a deportable offense, Trump’s catalog-of-horrors inauguration speech clearly would have qualified him.

Rep. Lee Zeldin chose to attack his four fellow representatives for a “blame America first mentality,” but said Trump should have stuck to policy disagreements.

Rep. Peter King said Trump’s tweets were “entirely inappropriate and wrong,” but did little else to make it clear that this was not acceptable behavior from the president.

Trump’s message is a dangerous one, that the other, the person who is different from you, is not a real American. Soon enough, if Trump’s hatred is not rejected, anyone who speaks against him will be the other.

 — The editorial board