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I take great pride in being the first New Jersey political columnist to denounce Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Within days after her victory over Joe Crowley in the 2018 Congressional Primary in Queens, I wrote the InsiderNJ column, “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a National – and New Jersey – Democratic Party Disaster”.
I followed that up with an InsiderNJ post-election column, “Frank Pallone, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the Face of the National Democratic Party”, describing the destructive impact AOC could have on the Democratic Party. Since she took office in January, 2019, I have incessantly denounced on social media her and her fellow Israel-haters, Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) for their efforts to undermine the safety and security of the Jewish State.
And AOC continued to hit new lows in her defamation of other Democrats. Last week, she slandered in despicable fashion as a racist Speaker Nancy Pelosi, claiming that Pelosi had singled out “women of color” in disparaging the influence of AOC and her fellow “squad members” Omar, Tlaib, and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts). Overwhelmingly, House Democrats, including leading African-American members rose to the defense of the Speaker.
Even Donald Trump came to her defense, disputing AOC’s implicit claim of Pelosi racism. I actually gave Trump a left-handed compliment for this in my following Facebook post on Saturday night:
For once, I can applaud Donald Trump for something. He is right to come to Nancy Pelosi’s defense against AOC’s despicable defamatory insinuation that the Speaker is a racist. Liar AOC is every bit as contemptible as Liar Trump.
But my subdued praise didn’t last long. Yesterday, Trump tweeted one of his most outrageously racist statements of his presidency, stating that the four “squad members” should “go back where they came from.” This is a standard racist mantra used against foreign born people of color. Trump’s racism was amplified by Trump ignorance, since only one “squad member” was born in a foreign country, Omar from Somalia. AOC was born in New York, Tlaib in Michigan, and Pressley in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Donald Trump is by far the worst and most despicable xenophobic racist president since Woodrow Wilson, with a shameful lifetime record of racial discrimination in his housing developments in Brooklyn, advocacy of the death penalty for the Central Park Five, whose innocence was ultimately vindicated, and his leadership in the Birther movement which challenged the American citizenship of Barack Obama, our first African-American president. It is not a mystery as to why Trump received the enthusiastic endorsement of KKK leader David Duke.
Trump’s acolytes have constantly endeavored to rationalize his racism. But there is no way he and his sycophants can rationalize his “go back where they came from” as anything but extreme hateful racism.
I have waited all day for a single Republican member of the US House of Representatives and/or the Senate to step forward and repudiate Trump’s racist comment of the day. Not one has. Neither has any leader of the Republican National Committee.
All these Republicans have now distinguished themselves as members of a jackal pack of moral and political cowards. And today, the focus shifts to New Jersey.
The NJGOP is no longer the party of Tom Kean and Christie Whitman. Both these individuals were examples of courageous foes of racism and bigotry. Either one would doubtless have denounced Trump’s latest vile racist tweet.
In fact, Christie Whitman is making New Jersey proud again, with frequent appearances as a panelist on MSNBC political talk shows. She makes her repudiation of Trump in a dignified yet compelling manner. I have no doubt that she will issue a statement this week condemning Trump’s racist Tweet.
But what will New Jersey Republican State Chair Doug Steinhardt do? If he does not issue a statement tomorrow denouncing Trump’s “go back to where you came from” Tweet, he will be acquiescing in Trump racism.
Likewise, what will be the reaction of the fourteen Republican members of the New Jersey State Senate and twenty-six Republican members of the Assembly? Any GOP member of either house who does not issue a statement today repudiating Trump’s racist tweet will be acquiescing in Trump racism.
So today is an historic day for the NJGOP. By courageously denouncing Trump’s racist tweet, Doug Steinhardt and New Jersey Republican legislators can proudly reclaim Tom Kean’s legacy of The Politics of Inclusion. If they fail to do so, they will have a deserved place in the New Jersey Hall of Political Cowardice. And the racist and misogynist Stench of Trumpism will continue to doom Republicans to defeat in the Garden State.
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman.