I am one of about a thousand who showed up to protest the racism at the Unite the Right rally. Showing up took courage, and I urge Rep. Denver Riggleman to find a similar courage and denounce President Trump's remarks telling four congresswomen of color (of whom three were born in America) to “go back” to their home countries.
It was well-known that the Unite the Right rally could be dangerous. In fact, Heather Heyer, the anti-racist protester killed in the car attack, initially decided not to go due to the potential for danger before changing her mind. Nevertheless, our country's future depends on how hard we push back against bigotry now, whether by physically out-numbering white supremacists chanting Nazi slogans, or by speaking out against a politician's racist remarks.
Being told to "go back to where you came from" is so well-known as a discriminatory trope that it is potentially illegal in a workplace setting, but very few Republicans in Congress have been willing to denounce Trump's remarks.
They do have reason to fear for their political careers; a number of Republicans have lost elections after criticizing Trump. And yet, while politicians like Rep. Riggleman have stayed silent, Trump’s remarks have metastasized.
He falsely claimed Rep. Ilhan Omar, a refugee from Somalia, thought al-Qaida was “great,” and he stood and watched as a crowd of his supporters chanted “send her back.”
We are a nation of immigrants, and we must not let our country be disrespected by the demands of members of a Trump rally to deport a U.S. citizen and member of Congress.
We do not know whether Rep. Riggleman is troubled by Trump’s remarks, since — as of this writing — he has declined to issue a statement. If he is troubled, though, then I would remind him that, whether it’s facing the possibility of losing an election or losing a life, opposing bigotry takes courage.