On the day Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, was sworn in as a freshman representative from Michigan, she published an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press making the case for Donald Trump’s impeachment.
“President Donald Trump is a direct and serious threat to our country. On an almost daily basis, he attacks our Constitution, our democracy, the rule of law and the people who are in this country. His conduct has created a constitutional crisis that we must confront now,” she wrote.
Tlaib went on to list the various impeachable offenses Trump has committed: “obstructing justice; violating the emoluments clause; abusing the pardon power; directing or seeking to direct law enforcement to prosecute political adversaries for improper purposes; advocating illegal violence and undermining equal protection of the laws; ordering the cruel and unconstitutional imprisonment of children and their families at the southern border; and conspiring to illegally influence the 2016 election through a series of hush money payments.”
Nobody cared or noticed.
But then, as she spoke to supporters at an event in the hours after her swearing in — in the hours after she literally wore her Palestinian-American pride in the form of the embroidered red and black traditional Thobe she donned to become first Muslim woman to take her seat in Congress — Tlaib recalled the moment she won her election in November.
“And when your son looks at you and says, ‘Mama look, you won. Bullies don’t win,’ and I said, ‘Baby, they don’t,’ because we’re gonna go in there and we’re going to impeach the motherfucker,” she told the crowd.
And everyone collectively lost their shit.
“This is a gift to Trump,” tweeted New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait.
CNN’s Chris Cilizza wrote that Tlaib’s choice of words was, “almost certainly … the wrong strategy if Democrats want to beat Trump in 2020.”
Right wing windbag pundit and former Trump advisor Sebastian Gorka swooned over to the nearest fainting couch and as he was revived with smelling salts he gasped, “In 5 years on Twitter I have avoided (re-)posting anything with foul language. Now I break that rule because of @RashidaTlaib. Forget @AOC. THIS is the face of the Democrats. Are you ready for what they will try to do to our President, @realDonaldTrump?”
It’s a good thing for Gorka’s mental health and social media feed that Trump definitely never called an entire country a shithole or bragged about grabbing a a woman by the pussy or called a professional athlete a son of a bitch.
Because, to be clear, this outrage comes from the fact that Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib called the President a “motherfucker.” It has nothing to do with her case for impeachment. It has nothing to do with her calling out his many abuses of power. The outrage comes because a newly-powerful woman in a traditional Palestinian robe used a swear word and people find that terrifying.
I’m the daughter of a single father and was raised, more often than not, like a buddy instead of a child. But what my father lacked in traditional fatherly values he made up for in candor. It was his opinion that I should enter this world aware of the power of my voice, confident in my own agency. And I’m grateful for that every day.
I tell you this because when I started to read the many, many breathless takes on Tlaib’s use of profanity, I was reminded of a lesson my dad taught me when I was 11-years-old. In sixth grade I had a math teacher. I struggled in math and my teacher was a bully. One day in class, she demanded I help solve an equation in front of the class. I did it wrong. I took my seat and blinked back tears, and when my teacher turned back to the chalkboard I gave her the middle finger.
Reader: somebody told on me and I got in-school suspension. I deserved it!
And when I brought the slip home from my principal that explained my infraction and required my father’s signature, he was furious. He made me explain what happened. I told him about my teacher, about my continuing trouble with this particular equation and the teacher’s behavior. I apologized for the profane gesture.
“I don’t care about that,” said my Dad. “But don’t you ever, EVER, say something to somebody’s back. You say it to their face.” He was deadly serious.
I brought the signed slip in the next day and served my day of in-school suspension. This was the very early 90s and there was no social media. But if there had been, I like to think I would have doubled down and posted a reply like Tlaib’s on Twitter.
“I will always speak truth to power. #unapologeticallyMe.”
Because now is not the time time for women to apologize for their choice of words. It’s time to say what we think to the bully’s face.
I will always speak truth to power. #unapologeticallyMe
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) January 4, 2019
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