Photo/IllutrationFrom left, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., respond to remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington on July 15. (AP Photo)

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, 36, became a refugee at age 8.

She and her family fled their civil war-torn native Somalia and arrived at a refugee camp. According to U.S. media reports, she spoke only Somali when she landed in America.

She learned to speak English and acted as her grandfather's interpreter at a political rally, and this awakened her interest in politics.

Elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2016, Omar ran successfully for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018. Her achievements are proof that the American Dream is not dead.

Omar today is one of the most vocal critics of President Donald Trump's immigration policy.

She and three other progressive congresswomen, all Democrats--Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley--have become targets of Trump's vicious social media attacks.

The president recently tweeted, “If you are not happy here, you can leave."

Unlike Omar, the other three were born in the United States, with their ancestral roots in Puerto Rico or Africa.

Trump also ranted on Twitter, "Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

What is so egregious is that these are the words of the sitting president of the United States, not an ultra-right activist. We must never become inured to this travesty.

The prevalent view in America is that Trump's tirades were made with white supremacists in mind, whose votes might help him get re-elected in 2020.

What are we to think of the view that votes can be secured only by professing one's outright, unmitigated racism and xenophobia?

This is something Japanese should take seriously, as our country intends to open its doors wider to foreign nationals.

But amid this ugliness, there is good news, too: Objections are being raised against the president from within the Republican Party.

A Republican senator noted that Trump was in the wrong, and that the congresswomen are entitled to their opinions.

The bad news, however, would be if such an attitude fails to become mainstream within the party.

--The Asahi Shimbun, July 17

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.