Crowd roars for politician to be deported as president continues 'racist' comments at rally
As thousands chanted "Send her back!" at a campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina, Donald Trump paused to let it amplify.
He listened for 13 seconds, as the stray shouts stretched into a uniform roar. Some raised campaign signs or fists to the rhythm of the crowd as they yelled. Some only murmured along. A few were children, following the lead of the adults sitting in front-row seats behind the US president.
"Send her back! Send her back!" they yelled in unison, advocating for deporting Ilhan Omar, a Democrat politician and American citizen, to Somalia, where she was born.
The chanting echoed Mr Trump's own racist comments on Sunday, when he suggested that four congresswomen - Ms Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, known collectively as 'The Squad' - "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came" rather than remain in the US.
Yesterday, Mr Trump tried to distance himself from the crowd's response, saying he was unhappy with his supporters chanting "send her back".
Speaking in the Oval Office, the US president claimed he tried to stop the chant.
However, video shows the president pausing his remarks, appearing to drink in the uproar and not admonishing his supporters as they chanted.
"I was not happy with it," Mr Trump said yesterday as some prominent Republicans criticised the chant at the president's re-election event.
He said he "would certainly try" to stop the chant should it return at a subsequent rally.
Ms Omar told reporters yesterday: "We have condemned his remarks. I believe he is fascist." Citing the chants, she said: "This is what this president and his supporters have turned our country into."
She said his taunt that she and others should return to their native countries is "to every single person who shares an identity with me. He's telling them that this is not their country".
Wednesday night's chanting alarmed many observers who suggested the president's invective could endanger the safety of the minority congresswomen and feed his country's ugliest impulses.
"This is the sound of illiberalism, intolerance," said Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League. "Listen closely: it's a danger not just to immigrants and minorities but to all Americans."
Thousands spoke out to support Ms Omar under the hashtag #IStandWithIlhan, with some of her constituents sending prayers "for Ilhan Omar and her family's safety, peace of mind, and joy", as one woman from Minneapolis said.
Democratic presidential candidates joined, with Kamala Harris calling the chant "vile", "racist" and "cowardly", while Bernie Sanders said Mr Trump is "stoking the most despicable and disturbing currents in our society".
Some identified the "send her back" chant as the new "lock her up", carrying the same feverish intensity as the unofficial 2016 campaign slogan targeting Hillary Clinton.
But for many, the most concerning aspect was that the chant reflected the racist "go back to where you came from" trope used by Mr Trump, showing how the president's xenophobic rhetoric tends to reverberate with approval among certain groups in his base. (© The Washington Post)