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The U.S. currently has a white nationalist as its president. Unless a mass of Republican leadership summons the moral courage to consistently speak out against President Donald Trump’s blatant xenophobic and racist rhetoric, GOP incumbents may not only suffer greater defeats in the upcoming 2020 election cycle than in 2018, but may also be recognized in history books along side the infamous White Citizens’ Council and the Dixiecrats.

The president’s recent tweets telling four black and brown congresswomen to go back to the countries which they came from to fix their supposedly “broken and crime-infested” homelands reeked of blatant racism.

This is the same president who previously referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists and ordered a ban of Muslim immigration, and said America does not need as many immigrants from “s*****le countries” in Africa. 

Trump's racism in telling four congresswomen to go back home, three of which were born in America including one African American, is more glaring considering the white male immigrants serving in Congress who are opposed to Trump ideologically, yet will probably never be told to go back to Europe. 

Instead of resolutely en mass denouncing Trump’s latest xenophobic statements, Republican national leaders remained silent as church mice the day of his statements. The following day, the most prominent GOP leaders stayed silent. This is a continued pattern of minimization of Trump’s repeatedly overt racism. 

At times, Democratic Party leaders and members have likewise delved into partisanship and complicity through silence. After all, the Obama administration, too, conducted raids rounding up undocumented immigrants — even at higher numbers than the current administration is now -- and there was not much outrage directed by party insiders at the president. 

Obama, however, never invoked dehumanizing vitriol towards Latinos, Africans and Muslims irrespective of national origin, including those born in America. 

The Republican Party of old supported President Abraham Lincoln when he signed into law An Act to Encourage Immigration in 1864 which openly encouraged emigrants. The GOP was not opposed to those seeking asylum and refuge in America back then. A year prior to the signing of that immigration act, Lincoln also signed the executive order famously known as the Emancipation Proclamation which declared 3.5 million persons of African descendant, including my ancestors, to be freed from chattel enslavement.

If today’s Republican Party still wants to be the party of Lincoln, then there must be more robust condemnation of Trump’s white nationalist rhetoric. Otherwise, much of the electorate will see invocation of Lincoln as part of a bygone era and will most likely hold Republicans candidates accountable at the polls next year.

Dawud Walid is the executive director of CAIR-MI.

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