Thursday, February 27, 2020 -
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‘Go back’

Having lived in a country where “Go back” comments were often heard, I was very disturbed by the president’s latest tweetstorm.

Sadly, “go back” is part of an immigrant’s existence. There are xenophobes everywhere, people who are suspicious — or even scared — of the other.

For example, in Switzerland, if an immigrant would remark that it was difficult to communicate with the authorities, the man on the street would often respond: “Well, why do you live here if you don’t bother speaking German?” (Never mind that the immigrant may have been trying to communicate in his or her broken German.)

Or, if an immigrant would complain about a local custom (read: quirk), they were often told: “Well, if you don’t like it here, why don’t you go back to where you came from? You’re not in [fill-in-the-blank] anymore.”

Europe, particularly, is very tribal. Unlike in the US, local customs date back millennia, and conformity is expected. Jews are deeply familiar with this mindset. We have been victims of isolation, enforced penury and mass murder simply because we have our own customs.

In the case of Trump, many are calling the tweets not only xenophobic but racist. I agree. Although the president did not name names, the women he was referring to are all of color.

But what makes Donald Trump’s comments particularly confusing is that several of the women to whom he directed his comments are not immigrants. They are American born. So where would they go back to?

This illogic is not unique to Trump. A significant percentage of Switzerland’s “foreign” population is Swiss- born — they simply don’t have citizenship due to the difficulty of acquiring it. So, where would they “go back” to?

More illogic: Trump has been married to two immigrant women. Would he appreciate it if they were told to “go back” to Slovenia and the Czech Republic?

When I did “go back,” I thought I was done with this mindset. While I’m upset at reading the president’s comments, I’m reassured to see criticism of them coming from all corners of society.

Shana Goldberg may be reached at

Copyright © 2019 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Shana Goldberg

IJN Assistant Publisher |

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