Call it “misogynistic”, “racist”, and/or “xenophobic” if one wants, but Trump’s spiteful tweet against “the Squad” of new progressive Democrat congresswomen made a solid point about reversing the crippling effects of “brain drain” on “Global South” nations even if that wasn’t his intent whatsoever and he did so in his characteristically crude way.
Trump tweeted a very harsh message on Sunday to the new progressive Democrat congresswomen who have been shaking up Capital Hill since their election last year. Collectively known as “the Squad” — which includes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar — these women of color have been extremely outspoken about their belief that the US must undertake radical reforms that their critics have lambasted as socialist, which has obviously drawn Trump’s ire over the past year given his deep-seated antipathy to anything having to even remotely do with leftism. They’ve also gotten under the skin of long-serving Democrats too, even upsetting powerful Speaker of the House Pelosi, who’s afraid that their controversial in-your-face attention-grabbing tactics are discrediting the entire party and setting the President up for a landslide re-election victory next year.
It’s against this backdrop that Trump tweeted the following:
“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 (if they even have a functioning government at all), 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. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”
His words will certainly be called “misogynistic”, “racist”, and/or “xenophobic”, but he still made a solid point.
AOC, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Talib each have birthright citizenship but Rep. Ilhan Omar acquired hers years after immigrating to the US from Mogadishu, Somalia, which is who Trump likely had in mind when he rhetorical asked “why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”. Never mind the fact that the plural subject of his address is inaccurate, if he was talking about Rep. Omar as is presumed, then he nevertheless said something thought-provoking even if that wasn’t his intent whatsoever (and was done in his characteristically crude way). The US serves as a magnet inspiring “brain drain” from “Global South” nations all across the world, and those countries of origin would be better off if their American-based expats and their descendants constructively contributed to giving back to their ancestral homelands.
That’s not to say that Rep. Omar should be forced to move back to Somalia — she did, after all, enter the US legally and followed the law to obtain citizenship so she has every right to remain in the country as long as she wants — but just that this latest scandal could serve to advance positive ends if the US’ immigrant community and their descendants took the time to reflect on how they could use the positive experiences that they’ve had in America to help their ethnic fellows elsewhere across the world. Trump infamously referred to a broad swath of the planet as “shithole countries” early last year, but what he was demeaningly describing was the chronic socio-economic underdevelopment in many post-colonial countries. Unfortunately, immigrants in general tend to “forget where they came from” once they move to the US and usually only retain cultural-linguistic connections with their original homelands in the cases where they don’t fully assimilate and integrate.
Everyone has the right to move to any country in the world as long as they follow the host state’s laws in doing so, and nobody is obligated to retain any links with where they came from once they do so, but it also can’t be overlooked that the US has historically weaponized “brain drain” with the purpose of depriving those countries of origin of their valuable human resources by attracting their targets with the promise of a so-called “better life” (understood differently by each immigrant depending on their individual needs and dreams). That’s not to say that many immigrants don’t veritably experience better living standards when moving from the “Global South” to the US, but just to draw attention to how this process works and the reason why it’s continued to this day.
Cynics could accuse the US of also seeking to use these expats and their descendants as instruments of influence in the event that they do end up reconnecting with their ancestral homelands after arriving in America, and while they might have a valid argument in some cases (ex: most anti-communist Cuban immigrants and their descendants), the majority of examples would probably end up being to the overall betterment of the recipient nation and not its detriment. In Rep. Omar’s case, Trump’s description of her homeland might be hyperbolic but it isn’t far off of the mark, since she did “come from a country whose government is a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all)” even if the US’ direct and indirect intervention there over the decades is partially responsible for that atrocious state of affairs.
Somalia is a “totally broken and crime infested place” despite relatively (key word) improving over the past several years, and it could definitely use all of the help that it can get. Some Somali-Americans are already doing what they can to help, and President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (popularly known as “Farmajo”) even holds dual citizenship with the US in a testimony of just how much naturalized American citizens can give back to their homelands if they have the will to do so. Rep. Omar has the freedom of speech to say whatever she wants and was entrusted by her constituents with the congressional role that she holds because they believed that she would advance their interests on Capital Hill, and she’s not obliged to have anything to do with Somalia at all anymore, but it would set a positive example and provocatively “put Trump in his place” if she took a more leading role in comprehensively furthering American-Somali relations in response to his malicious tweet to show that she doesn’t have to return to her homeland to help it in a significant way.
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