Trump has unleashed the dogs on Ilhan Omar. He has declared her an enemy of the people — white people, that is — who are the only real Americans in his grotesque worldview.
A Muslim immigrant from Somalia sitting in the US Congress constitutes a litmus test in a country defined not by democracy but white supremacy. Trump was elected in 2016 promising to make America Great Again. What he truly meant, and what his supporters understood him to mean, is that he wanted to make White America Great Again.
His election was in large part a racist reflex against Obama’s two terms in the White House, and since then Trump has given racism in America a make over — to the point where it is now no longer a dirty word in the country’s public discourse. Instead it is out of its box and normalised in a way it hasn’t been since the era of Jim Crow.
The 2008 financial and economic crash destroyed the last semblance of social cohesion in a country in which Third World levels of poverty exist alongside the kind of affluence and ostentation associated with Rome in its dying decadent days. Despair, fear and loathing is the lived experience of millions and counting in America’s towns, cities and rural heartlands — people living on the precipice of an economic abyss, their condition made worse by an unremitting ideological onslaught of American Dream verbiage, pumped out by a mass media that exists to amplify the myths that underpin a country born in genocide, seasoned with slavery, and drowning in racism and hatred of the other.
Like Dorian Gray, the eponymous character in Oscar Wilde’s classic work, Trump is what America sees when it looks at itself in the mirror. It is the ugly face of the white supremacy, gangster capitalism, rampant individualism, hyper-masculinity, nativism and vigilante violence that lies on the other side of all the happy talk about liberty, opportunity, and freedom proffered by those champions of liberal America — Clinton, Obama et al. — like political snake oil salesmen and women.
Obama with his warm words of hope and message of unity was and is the lie. Trump with his crude words of hate and message of racial division is the truth.
Ilhan Omar offends Trump and his supporters not because of anything she has said, but because of who she is. And what she has done, unwittingly, is show the world what America is, inviting the wrath of every racist knuckle dragger in that forsaken land, including the President himself, in the process.
Moreover, alongside the other congresswomen targeted by Trump in recent days — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlai — Omar had the temerity to speak out about the appalling conditions in which asylum seekers and illegal migrants are being detained at the border with Mexico. Ocasi-Cortez described the facilities that she visited as being akin to concentration camps, and was also vocal about the racist and inhumane culture that she encountered among the guards charged with security at those facilities. Trump has made clear his contempt for poor migrants of colour, who for him exist outside the circle of human worth that is central to his racist value system.
As America continues its journey on a rocket ship to hell piloted by this president, we are invited to ponder who really lost the country’s civil war? The South will rise again is the mantra of those who lament the passing of the Confederacy. Maybe, actually, the South has risen again — leastways when it comes to its malign cultural values — inspired by a man for whom the world execrable was invented.
As for Ilhan Omar, may her God protect her. Somebody has to.