Donald Trump’s tweets telling four members of Congress to “go back” to their countries of origin prompted Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) to reflect on his own experiences with the age-old racist phrase.
In an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Tuesday, Lieu pointed out how his service in the Air Force and Congress has not shielded him from the racist comment that he should ”‘go back’ to China or North Korea or Japan.”
“Like many immigrants, I have learned to brush off this racist insult,” he wrote. “I never thought the president of the United States would tell members of Congress to ‘go back’ to another country.”
Several public figures and lawmakers have shared their experiences about being told to leave the United States since the president on Sunday tweeted that four minority congresswomen — all of whom are U.S. citizens — should “go back” to the countries they came from.
Lieu accused Trump of implying that immigrants are “somehow less loyal to our country, less American.” Lieu added that he has dealt with such racism for most of his life, and even wrote an op-ed about it for the Post 20 years ago, under the headline ”‘Are You in The Chinese Air Force?’”
“The suspicion that immigrants are not to be trusted or are unpatriotic is not just wrong; it is un-American,” he wrote this week. “Yet it has marred America’s past, including with the 19th-century ‘Yellow Peril’ hysteria, the internment during World War II of more than 110,000 people who happened to be of Japanese descent and accusations against Jewish Americans of harboring dual loyalties.”
“It is heartening to see the reaction to Trump’s remarks from countless Americans who recognized that his words were repulsive,” Lieu wrote. “Notwithstanding the current occupant of the Oval Office, the United States is, and will remain, an exceptional nation.”
Following Trump’s racist tirade on Twitter on Sunday, Lieu wasn’t shy about condemning the remarks. Shortly after the tweets went out, the representative appeared on MSNBC and called him a “racist ass” for attacking “progressive Democratic congresswomen.”
Read Lieu’s full op-ed at The Washington Post.