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 OmarSunday shows - Guns dominate after Democratic debate Omar responds to family of 9/11 victim who called her out at anniversary ceremony Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley dance to Lizzo's 'Truth Hurts' in video MORE (D-Minn.), a new member of the House Foreign Affairs committee, is speaking to Elliott Abrams, President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy 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-CortezBill Maher, Michael Moore spar over Democrats' strategy for 2020 Super PAC head spars with CNN's Cuomo over Ocasio-Cortez ad Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight 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 NewmanTrump renews attacks on Omarosa, slamming her as 'disgusting and foul mouthed' Ex-sycophants highlight the void of competence around Trump Scaramucci breaks up with Trump in now-familiar pattern MORE.

Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonTen notable Democrats who do not favor impeachment Assault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress Democratic rep reconsiders wearing trademark hats because of 'racists who taunt me' MORE (D-Fla.)? Trump demeaned her as “wacky” and said she was “killing” the Democratic Party.

Former Utah Republican Congresswoman Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LoveFormer GOP lawmaker: Trump's tweets have to stop Congressional Women's Softball team releases roster The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority 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 WatersManufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Democrats' impeachment message leads to plenty of head-scratching Trump officials vow to reform Fannie, Freddie if Congress doesn't act 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 HarrisHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Gun control: Campaigning vs. legislating Booker defends middle-ground health care approach: 'We're going to fight to get there' 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 TlaibBill Maher, Michael Moore spar over Democrats' strategy for 2020 Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight We must stand together against hatred 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.