The average age of all members of the House of Representatives in the 116th Congress is 57.6 years old. The average age of Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib, labeled “The Squad” is 38.3 years old. While age is not necessarily an indicator of political affiliation, “The Squad” has been applauded for their efforts to make space for people who are not older, male and/or white. Their tendency to lean further left politically than other Democrats has gained them much publicity on both sides of the spectrum. While the four representatives have found support, their status as younger progressive women of color has also opened them up to abuse from fellow politicians and citizens.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a phrase that is often taught to children to teach them to ignore anything negative said about them. However, the hate-filled abuse hurled at the four women is hard to brush off. Donald Trump tweeted that Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, Omar and Tlaib should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came,” saying that they “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).”
This comment is both racist and xenophobic, especially because three out of the four women were born in the United States and are all naturalized citizens. It implies that non-white people are in some way less or not American and that people who are in any way critical of America do not deserve to be in it. Trump then specifically called out Omar at a rally in North Carolina, claiming that she supported Al Qaeda without any evidence. The crowd responded by chanting, “Send her back! Send her back!” Trump’s words and behavior normalize and encourage racism, sexism, xenophobia, and I
It is expected and healthy for politicians from all parties to be criticized when they do something wrong. However, attacking politicians with racist, sexist and xenophobic language should not be tolerated and those who choose to do so should be punished accordingly.