Politics & Government

‘Ashamed’ or ‘proud’? NC trends on Twitter after Trump rally, setting off fiery debate

North Carolinians took to Twitter on Thursday, with some expressing their shame and others sharing pride about being from the state after a chant at President Donald Trump’s recent campaign event in Greenville.

The president reacted too, telling reporters Thursday that he “was not happy” with the chant against Rep. Ilhan Omar, a congresswoman from Minnesota.

The crowd at one point chanted “send her back,” as the president spoke Wednesday night about Omar, a Somali refugee who came to the United States as a child and became a U.S. citizen as a teenager in 2000.

So many people were tweeting Thursday that the topic “North Carolinian” was trending on Twitter.

Trump continues attacks

The reactions came after Trump on Wednesday held a campaign rally at East Carolina University and continued his attacks on four liberal Democratic congresswomen of color.

“They don’t love our country. I think in some cases they hate our country,” Trump said. “If they don’t love it, tell them to leave it.”

Trump had tweeted Sunday: “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.”

All four of the freshmen congresswomen are U.S. citizens. Three were born in the United States: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a resolution of condemnation of the president over the series of racist tweets.

In his first campaign rally since the controversy, at 8,000-seat Williams Arena, Trump ran through a litany of statements made by the four lawmakers, including Omar, which drew the chant from the crowd. Trump paused and allowed the chant to die down before resuming his speech.

Trump’s 2016 campaign rallies often featured chants of “lock her up,” in reference to Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

Social media reaction

In response to the “Send her back” chant, one Twitter user said: “Is this what we have come to? I’m ashamed to call myself a North Carolinian.

“Hi fellow Republicans, we are better than this,” another user said. “This is vile behavior. Do better. Be better.”

Politicians even joined in on the conversation.

State Sen. Jeff Jackson put out a tweet saying, “#WeAreNotThis.”

“It’s fine to disagree with someone’s politics,” he said. “But what we saw from the president last night — in our state — was the escalation of that disagreement to the point of denouncing someone’s lawful citizenship.”

But some on Thursday expressed support of the president and pride for being from the state.

“I’m a born & raised North Carolinian & proud of it,” one Twitter user said. “I love Pres Trump & America & all it’s people!”

Another user reacted to a tweet about the president’s visit and said “North Carolinians love Trump just like the rest of all common sense Americans.”

‘Unpatriotic’

In a phone interview with The News & Observer, North Carolina’s governor weighed in, too.

“I get frustrated when any politician tries to use race or ethnicity to divide us and any time that happens anywhere in the country is not good for us,” said Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat. “In North Carolina we have a diverse state. That is one of our greatest strengths and private companies have already seen how diversity improves the bottom line, so we need to be celebrating our diversity rather than using it as a political wedge.”

U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, a Greensboro Republican who attended the rally, said the chant was offensive and shouldn’t define Republicans’ campaign message.

“I don’t think the president intentionally tried to create anything like this, but I think it has blown up over the last week,” Walker told reporters Thursday.

Walker said he and other House Republican leaders brought it up with Vice President Mike Pence at a breakfast.

“Let’s focus on what’s been said and the actions of Rep. Omar or others,” Walker said, “as opposed to some kind of chant that in my opinion is unpatriotic.”

Trump on Omar

Trump said at the rally that Omar proclaimed al-Qaida is great, a claim that several media outlets have found to be false. He said Omar smeared U.S. service members involved in the Black Hawk Down incident in Somalia in 1993. Omar wrote in a tweet in 2017 that “thousands of Somalis (were) killed by American forces that day.”

Trump said Omar said that terrorism is a reaction to United States involvement in other countries’ affairs. In 2013, in an interview about a deadly terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya, Omar said: “Nobody wants to face how the actions of the other people that are involved in the world have contributed to the rise of the radicalization and the rise of terrorist acts,” according to Fox News.

Trump also mentioned an Omar quote from earlier this year, but omitted the context surrounding her quote that “ignorance really is pervasive in many parts of this country.” Speaking on a podcast, she was referring to Minnesota Republicans who were trying to stop refugees from resettling in the state and who she said were misleading people about refugee resettlement policy. “And so it is not that they might not be knowledgeable about this, but they use it as a tool to stir up hate and division. And ignorance really is pervasive in many parts of this country.”

Omar, who is Muslim, apologized in February for a tweet that House Democratic leadership called “an anti-Semitic trope.”

Emma Dumain, Adam Wagner and Paul A. Specht contributed to this report.
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