The so called president recently directed racist tweets at four women of color who currently serve in the House of Representatives, telling them to “go back” to their home countries, even though three of them were born in the United States and the fourth is a naturalized citizen.
Telling anyone who articulates criticisms of the U.S. government to “go back” anywhere is never valid. Our Constitution expressly protects the right to free expression, peaceable assembly, and to petition government, all of which add up to the freedom of any “person” who acts under our Constitution to say what they like about the federal government or any official who works in it, or obsessively plays golf in it, as the case may be.
There is no reason to think Trump knows this — he apparently knows effectively nothing about our nation’s history and customs, and does not care. But his admonition to “go back” does have a historical precedent, an ugly one that reflects badly, and accurately, on the president and his racism.
In 1816, the American Colonization Society emerged to send freed slaves back to Africa. This proposition was always controversial. Advocates of emancipating all slaves — a highly controversial idea before the Civil War — suspected that it was a plot by slave owners to remove the most active, well educated freed slaves so they would not interfere with slavery. Some freed slaves were happy to move to Africa. The Society created the colony of Liberia specifically for the purpose of giving free slaves from the United States a destination.
Most freed slaves rejected the idea, choosing instead to remain in the nation they and their ancestors had helped build.
Trump might wish they had all left, but they have no duty to do so, Trump’s racist fantasy to the contrary notwithstanding.