George Conway says Trump's tweets about four non-white members of Congress were "racist to the core"

"It’s beyond the bounds of human decency for anyone — not least a president," Conway says in a scathing new op-ed

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published July 16, 2019 1:10PM (EDT)

Donald Trump; George Conway (AP/Susan Walsh/Getty/Chip Somodevilla)
Donald Trump; George Conway (AP/Susan Walsh/Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

George Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, condemned the president's recent tweets about a group of progressive female lawmakers known as "the squad" as racist in a scathing new op-ed.

After recalling how his Filipino-American mother had been told to "go back" to her country when he was a child, Conway's Washington Post editorial listed a number of occasions when Trump seemed to reveal racist sentiments during his presidency.

"The birther imaginings about Barack Obama? Just a silly conspiracy theory, latched onto by an attention seeker who has a peculiar penchant for them," Conway wrote. "The 'Mexican' Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel incident? Asinine, inappropriate, a terrible attack on the judiciary by an egocentric man who imagined that the judge didn’t like him. The white supremacists’ march in Charlottesville? The president’s comments were absolutely idiotic, but he couldn’t possibly have been referring to those self-described Nazis as 'good people'; in his sloppy, inarticulate way, he was referring to both sides of the debate over Civil War statue, and venting his anger about being criticized."

After explaining that he had attempted to give Trump the "benefit of the doubt" about being a racist in spite of these incidents, Conway wrote that the president's tweets about "the squad" consisting of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota were the last straw for him.

"Telling four non-white members of Congress — American citizens all, three natural-born — to 'go back' to the 'countries' they 'originally came from'?" Conway wrote. "That’s racist to the core. It doesn’t matter what these representatives are for or against — and there’s plenty to criticize them for — it’s beyond the bounds of human decency. For anyone, not least a president."

Conway also condemned Republican political leaders for being silent about Trump's remarks, arguing that "Trump is not some random, embittered person in a parking lot — he’s the president of the United States. By virtue of his office, he speaks for the country. What’s at stake now is more important than judges or tax cuts or regulations or any policy issue of the day. What’s at stake are the nation’s ideals — its very soul."

One Republican who has spoken out in criticizing the president is Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who said that "three of the four were born in America, and the citizenship of all four is as valid as mine."

He added, "I couldn’t disagree more with these congresswomen’s views on immigration, socialism, national security and virtually every policy issue. But they are entitled to their opinions, however misguided they may be. We should defeat their ideas on the merits — not on the basis of their ancestry."

The conservative journal National Review also condemned Trump's comments, with senior political correspondent Jim Geraghty writing that Trump's tweets were "an act of political stupidity that is simply jaw-dropping" and pointing out that "at the exact moment that Democrats are realizing the toxicity of identity politics, Donald Trump endorses the notion that these women are defined by where they come from."

On Tuesday Trump tweeted that he was not a racist, writing "those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don’t have a Racist bone in my body! The so-called vote to be taken is a Democrat con game. Republicans should not show “weakness” and fall into their trap. This should be a vote on the filthy language, statements and lies told by the Democrat Congresswomen, who I truly believe, based on their actions, hate our Country. Get a list of the HORRIBLE things they have said. Omar is polling at 8%, Cortez at 21%. Nancy Pelosi tried to push them away, but now they are forever wedded to the Democrat Party. See you in 2020!"

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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