Banish intolerance, not disagreement

It has been pointed out that President Donald Trump’s racist attack on four Democratic congresswomen may have been calculated for political reasons. That is, Trump may have hoped outrage over his tweet would show his base that moderate Democrats have more in common with their party’s radicals than they would like voters to think.

Maybe they do, but Trump’s tactics are wrong.

We Americans have a long tradition of facing up to our disagreements, of hashing them out rather than attempting to make them go away. Trump’s comments have suggested that is a mistake.

His original tweet, in case you missed it, referred to U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York; Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota; Ayanna Pressley, D-Massachusetts; and Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan.

Trump falsely contended the four “came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe …” Three of the four were born in this country. Only Omar, originally from Somalia, is an immigrant and she is a U.S. citizen.

The four should “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,” the president tweeted.

All four congresswomen have had the audacity to be critical of some aspects of American society and government policies. Some of the policy changes they espouse, such as the “new green deal,” would be terrible mistakes.

But suggesting the solution to disagreements with them is to tell them to leave the United States is not how we Americans do things.

Part of the frustration among some in Trump’s base is that for many years, liberals attempted to marginalize them. They were viewed, as Hillary Clinton put it, as “deplorables.”

That, too, is not how we Americans do things. We agree to disagree. We view most controversies — except the tiny fraction generated by true thugs throughout the ideological spectrum — as honest, patriotic differences of opinion about how to pursue American goals.

Trump’s comment about the four congresswomen, then, was a symptom of intolerance. It, not those with whom we disagree, needs to be banned.


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