Juan Williams: Racial shifts spark fury in Trump and his base

Juan Williams: Racial shifts spark fury in Trump and his base
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Here is one of those unforgettable moments in Congress.

Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarCarson invokes abortion in Twitter response to jab from Omar WHIP LIST: Democrats who support an impeachment inquiry against President Trump Muslim lawmakers host Ramadan iftar to break fast at Capitol MORE (D-Minn.), a new member of the House Foreign Affairs committee, is speaking to Elliott Abrams, President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE’s special envoy to Venezuela:

“Mr. Abrams, in 1991 you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding the Iran-Contra affair…I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.”

“If I could respond to that —” Abrams interjected.

“It wasn’t a question,” Omar shot back, cutting off the witness.

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The sight of a young Muslim congresswoman, wearing a hijab, holding a powerful 71-year-old white Republican accountable signals the dawn of a new day in American politics.

The heavily white, older male party of Trump is fighting to hold back what they see coming over the horizon.

Many people — including me — have been targets of President Trump’s Twitter tirades, but women of color provoke a special kind of Trump ire.

Trump last month dismissed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Murkowski celebrates birthday with electric scooter ride Warren, Ocasio-Cortez press Mnuchin on role in Sears bankruptcy MORE (D-N.Y.) with a wave of the hand and a “who cares,” after she told CBS’s “60 Minutes” she has “no question” that Trump makes use of the “historic dog whistles of white supremacy.”

Trump has been even more dismissive of other women of color.

A “lowlife” and a “dog.” That’s Trump talking about his former White House aide, Omarosa Manigault NewmanOmarosa Onee Manigault NewmanDonald Trump Jr. inks book deal Lawsuit alleges Trump campaign paid women less than men Omarosa praises Kamala Harris's 'historic' campaign MORE.

Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonOvernight Defense: Iran worries dominate foreign policy talk | Pentagon reportedly to send WH plans for 10K troops in Mideast | Democrats warn Trump may push through Saudi arms sale | Lawmakers blast new Pentagon policy on sharing info House Dem: Trump could start war with Iran to thwart impeachment Lawmakers celebrate 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote MORE (D-Fla.)? Trump demeaned her as “wacky” and said she was “killing” the Democratic Party.

Former Utah Republican Congresswoman Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LoveCongressional Women's Softball team releases roster The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Juan Williams: Racial shifts spark fury in Trump and his base MORE? Right after her failed reelection bid, Trump said she “gave me no love and she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia.”

House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersRepublicans spend more than million at Trump properties Exclusive: Carson seeks to clean up testimony on protections for homeless transgender people Key House committee obtains subpoenaed Trump financial documents from two banks: report MORE (D-Calif.) has in the past been described by Trump as “an extraordinarily low IQ person”

Imagine the bitter attacks if Trump faces a strong woman of color, such as Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisCastro swears off donations from oil, gas, coal executives Harris leads California Democrats in condemning HUD immigrant housing policy Billionaire's M gift to Morehouse grads points way to student debt solution MORE (D-Calif.), in the 2020 election.  

The Democrats’ success in the midterms set off these unsettling changes in American politics for Trump and his base.

The new House majority includes a record number of freshman Democratic congresswomen. 

In fact, 43 women of color are now serving in the House. Only one non-white congresswoman is a Republican — Rep. Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerDems push to revive Congress' tech office Bill allowing Congress to hire Dreamers advances House fails to override Trump veto on border wall MORE, who was reelected in Washington state.

The record number includes 22 black women, 11 Latinas, six Asian-Pacific Islanders and the first two Native American women in Congress. It also brought to Congress the first two Muslim women: Omar and Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibSteyer plans impeachment push targeting Democrats over recess Tlaib urges Mnuchin to seek personal legal advice Pelosi faces tipping point on Trump impeachment MORE (D-Mich.).

Last month, Tlaib told an excited crowd of liberal activists: “We’re gonna impeach the motherf****r” – referring to Trump.

In that moment, she joined Ocasio-Cortez as a target of right-wing hate.

The New York Times reported last week that Republicans have “amped up” their efforts to demonize these young Democratic women.

The Times’ Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote that Omar is being targeted for anti-Semitic language she used to criticize Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Ocasio-Cortez is under attack as an extreme leftist for her focus on income inequality in her Green New Deal proposals.

“Democrats,” Stolberg reported, “see an insidious effort to use women and minorities, especially women of color, as the new symbols of the radical ‘other.’ And they are calling out Republicans as hypocrites, noting that Mr. Trump and other Republicans trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes and racist dog whistles long before anyone noticed Ms. Omar’s Twitter feed.”

The most frequent charge against the newcomers from Trump’s conservative talk radio fans is that these women of color are dividing the country with “identity politics.” 

That drew a response from Stacey Abrams, the first black woman nominated by a major party to run for governor. She lost her 2018 race in Georgia.

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Writing in Foreign Affairs, Abrams pleaded guilty to having “intentionally and vigorously highlighted communities of color and other marginalized groups, not to the exclusion of others but as a recognition of their specific policy needs.”

She argued that an earlier essay, by conservative political scientist Francis Fukuyama, did not consider that “marginalized groups [are] finally overcoming centuries-long efforts,” to deny them access to the ballot box and keep them out of white, male-dominated politics.

Abrams concluded that new “noisy voices represent the strongest tool to manage the growing pains of multicultural coexistence. By embracing identity and its prickly, uncomfortable contours, Americans will become more likely to grow as one.”

Abrams did not mention Trump. But he regularly uses white identity politics to stir up his base.

It can be seen in his attack on Mexicans as rapists and his denigration of “shithole countries.” And who can forget Trump’s false and repeated insinuation that President Obama was not born in the United States? That racist conspiracy theory was the springboard for Trump’s presidential run. 

What we see in Trump’s fear of women of color is resistance to the rapidly rising sun of racial change in our politics.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.