The problem is not only that the president of the United States used offensive language to describe an entire continent of 1.2 billion people.
It’s that his comment was racist at its core. And that it revealed a wrong-headed, illogical approach to immigration policy. And that it betrayed this country’s entire history. And that he very likely lied to the nation about it the next day by claiming he didn’t say it. And that millions of people love him all the more for all of that.
President Donald Trump was meeting with congressional leaders in the Oval Office Thursday about a compromise on the DACA program that would allow immigrants brought here as children by their parents to stay.
A conversation about visas and who should get them turned to Africa. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump asked, sources told the Washington Post. Trump said the U.S. should instead welcome more people from countries such as Norway. “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out,” Trump also reportedly said.
The White House did not dispute the account.
Trump’s backers quickly pointed to the fact that Barack Obama had confessed to cursing too much. This ignores that Trump’s cursing itself was not what led to a worldwide backlash. It was the sentiment behind his choice of words: That black, impoverished people are not welcome here, while blue-eyed, blond-haired Norwegians are.
It is further evidence of Trump’s racist views and policies. And it ignores the fact that through history, millions of people have come to this country to flee unbearable conditions. Those people largely built this country, in fact.
U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, a Republican from Charlotte, went on WBT Friday morning to defend Trump’s remarks and did so with incredibly twisted logic.
“We have despots running these countries. People are being exploited inside their own countries, and abused. So that to me was the context of what he’s been saying,” Pittenger said. He added: “He’s addressing the reality of the despots who run these countries. They’re so abusive. I’ve traveled in these countries and it’s horrendous what these people live in.”
Precisely. That is a reason to consider their plight, not put a blanket ban on them.
Friday morning, Trump tweeted that he did not call them “shithole countries.” Only people who were there know for sure. But Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, was adamant and convincing Friday when he insisted that Trump did say it and said it repeatedly. Durbin also said that Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., confronted Trump about it at the time. U.S. Sen. Tim Scott said Graham told him it was true.
Given Trump’s record with the truth, we find Durbin more believable in this case. It’s disturbing that Trump so easily denies saying something that a roomful of people very likely heard.
For Trump, it’s all just more red meat for the base, while our Founders roll over in their graves and the world recoils in disgust.