New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has slammed US President Donald Trump for his racist tweets targetting his own country’s female lawmakers of colour.
Reacting to Trump’s xenophobic tweets, Ardern told Radio New Zealand, “Usually I don’t get into other people’s politics, but it will be clear to most people that I completely and utterly disagree with him.”
In a series of tweets on Sunday, Trump had told US Congresswomen, “If you’re not happy here, you can leave… This is about love for America, certain people hate our country.”
Jacinda Ardern said that the ‘parliament should be a representative place, it should look and feel like New Zealand, it should have a range of different cultures and ethnicities.’ “And never should a judgment be made about the origin of anyone, and their right, therefore, to be in parliament as a representative,” the charismatic leader of New Zealand added.
Although Trump did not name anyone, it was widely believed that he was targeting four Congresswomen namely Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. Except for Omar, who came to the United States as a refugee from Somalia more than 20 years ago and is a naturalized citizen, all were born in the US. Omar and Tlaib are Muslim.
All four women later held a news conference to slam Trump for his racist tweets. The local media have called them ‘The Squad’ for their fiercely outspoken nature. “This is simply a disruption and a distraction from the callous chaos and corrupt culture of this administration, all the way down,” Pressley said. Both Omar and Tlaib repeated their calls for Trump to be impeached.
Meanwhile, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that there was no ‘excuse for any response to those words but a swift and strong, unified condemnation.’
Faced with global outrage, Trump took to Twitter to deny that he was a racist. He wrote, “Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don’t have a Racist bone in my body! The so-called vote to be taken is a Democrat con game. Republicans should not show “weakness” and fall into their trap. This should be a vote on the filthy language, statements and lies told by the Democrat Congresswomen, who I truly believe, based on their actions, hate our Country. Get a list of the HORRIBLE things they have said. Omar is polling at 8%, Cortez at 21%. Nancy Pelosi tried to push them away, but now they are forever wedded to the Democrat Party. See you in 2020!”
BBC’s Nick Bryant said that Trump’s use of of language was ‘well outside of the usual parameters of presidential discourse.’ He, however, added that the fact that he is escalating the issue shows he seems to be enjoying it and, for him, it serves a political purpose.