Keith Ellison says he wants to ‘take back the country.’ Does that mean he’s racist?

Keith Ellison says he wants to ‘take back the country.’ Does that mean he’s racist?

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) has an op-ed in Time magazine titled “Democrats Will Unite and Take Back the Country.”

In the article, he opines that “we have a President who actively seeks to divide the American people.” He’s entitled to his opinion, though he might want to wait until Donald Trump has been in office a little longer than four days before making that sweeping generalization. A Gallup poll found Barack Obama to be one of the most polarizing presidents in the history of the nation, but at the time of publication, Obama had been in office for six years.

The rest of Ellison’s essay is meant as justification for the title. But isn’t the notion of taking the country back racist? It was until recently. In May 2010, a piece at the Huffington Post affirmed the racist nature of that goal:

The idea perpetuated by the Tea Party movement to “Take back our country!” from [insert non-white male here] is no more than racism in drag.

Around the same time, Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart made a similar claim during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” telling his host:

We’re talking about the extreme portions of the tea party movement and they’re overwhelmingly white. Those are the folks that are saying I want my country back. And it does have that tinge of I want my country back from them.

In point of fact, questions about the racist implications of “taking back one’s country” were never raised until Barack Obama was elected president.

The words came tripping off the tongue of Howard Dean during his 2004 presidential run when he told a crowd in Burlington, Vermont, “You have the power to take our county back!”

Hillary Clinton used the rallying cry, too, in her Senate re-election campaign in 2006, declaring that her goal was to “take our country back.” Around the same time, Sen. Chuck Schumer asserted that “We really care about taking our country back.”

Democratic consultants James Carville and Paul Begala are obviously racists as well. The pair went so far as to co-authored a book titled “Take It Back: A Battle Plan for Democratic Victory.”

All of this is by way of saying that this expression, like so much else that liberals decry, is offensive only when it serves their agenda to proclaim that it is. Otherwise all bets are off.

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer.


Commenting Policy

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.

You may use HTML in your comments. Feel free to review the full list of allowed HTML here.