The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.

We need to talk about “bait.”

I mention it because “bait” is why Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, has not responded, and apparently won’t respond, to Trump’s racist recent tweets aimed at four congresswomen — all women of color, all Democrats, all American citizens, and most saliently, all unafraid of him — telling them to “go back” to the countries they came from.

Let’s pause for a rhetorical question about the white man with the trappings of power telling the four women, all of whom possess the power of their intelligence and elected office, to “go back” to the “crime infested places from which they came”:

Go back exactly where?

We know what he is saying:

You don’t belong in my America. Get out. I decide who is American — and it’s not you.

It’s facile to act as if Trump’s words aren’t xenophobic and racist.

I contacted Sinema’s and GOP Sen. Martha McSally’s offices Tuesday because neither had yet said anything about Trump’s Sunday racist statement, or his subsequent ranting about the four congresswomen dubbed “the Squad”: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.; and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.

I didn’t receive, or expect, a response from McSally’s office. She’s kept silent about Trump’s misogynist and racist statements before, and is keen on ingratiating herself to him and his voters.

A spine at this point wouldn’t be politically useful.

Sinema’s spokeswoman Hannah Hurley responded swiftly, only to say that the senator wouldn’t have an on-the-record comment about Trump’s statements.

Hurley referred me to an interview Sinema did with The Arizona Republic in March. In it she explained her personal policy of not responding to Trump’s social-media bombs.

“What he’s doing every day is saying incendiary things about lots of things knowing that different categories of people will take the bait on different things,” she said.

The outrage at hand was Trump’s insults about the late Sen. John McCain, who’d died seven months before.

“But I think that this is all of us playing into his hands all the time. It’s not just the media. It’s everyone,” Sinema said. “It’s not just the people running for president. It’s everyone. Which means that we are not paying attention to what he is actually doing.”

I get that. And I agree that we — the public and the media — have to gird against getting sucked into Trump’s distraction factory.

Trump’s nasty comments about his deceased rival John McCain weren’t worthy of a response — they showed Trump for the shallow, fragile and incomplete person he is.

This is different.

Trump is actively defining his vision of a white America, publicly and proudly. He’s not pussyfooting around (if you’ll pardon the reference).

Trump’s “go back” comment isn’t his first racist volley, and it’s not the first time he’s targeted women with an extra level of venom.

Donald Trump saying racist things, purposefully and in public, isn’t news. At this point, and think about what a low point this is and how deep it will become, there is little “Can you believe he actually said that?!” shock left in the world.

But we can’t ignore that there are Americans who hear his racist words speaking their kind of truth, give a cheer and laud him with a “Can you believe he actually said that?!” hearty slap on the back.

Trump’s words are bait to those who see people of color — be they Americans or immigrants — and see people who don’t belong in the United States.

I hope Sinema will join the many who have rebuked Trump and his racist message. I have faith that she can spend a few minutes sending a tweet and still do the work Arizonans sent her to the Senate to accomplish.

A couple suggestions:

• Donald Trump telling four members of Congress to ‘go back’ to where they came from is wrong.

• “American” doesn’t mean “white.”

•The president shouldn’t be racist.

Or, my favorite: A racist shouldn’t be president.

Sarah Garrecht Gassen is the Star’s Opinion editor. Email her at and follow her on Facebook.