Just when you thought Donald Trump had already taken the Presidency as low as it could go, he asked, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries coming here?” Our esteemed President, according to credible reports, told a group of bipartisan legislators Thursday he didn’t want Haiti, El Salvador and African nations sending their foul and nasty immigrants here. At a meeting about saving the DACA program, Trump wondered why we just couldn’t have more (pure and white) immigrants from Norway. Sounds like Adolph Hitler’s preference for Aryan types.
The timing of Trump’s disparagement of places with black and Latino populations couldn’t have been more telling. A day later he was issuing a Martin Luther King Day proclamation with MLK’s nephew looking on. Sadly, his racist remarks were predictable. The specific language, crude as it is, is not the issue. We’ve heard his “locker room” style before and have come to expect his racist persona, manifest in his dog whistle innuendos, re-tweets of white nationalist propaganda, ignorant misrepresentations of fact and outright lies. From his New York race-baiting days and discriminatory practices as a landlord, to the Obama birther calumny to his countless 2016 campaign ethnic slanders to his Charlottesville white nationalist embrace, his record is clear and undeniable.
To his defenders I say, what’s in his heart is not the issue. Trump is sullying our international reputation and besmirching such fundamental American values as diversity and inclusion. In diminishing our standing in the world and giving succor to our enemies, he is making us less safe.
Last night in Palm Beach, our august President proclaimed, “I am not a racist.” Kind of reminds you of Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook,” doesn’t it? Trump’s rhetoric is far less important that his policies and the need to provide a check on his powers by winning back at least the House in this year’s mid-term election.
Trump’s base was largely unmoved by the “shithole” episode, save for the David Duke, The Daily Stormer and their neo-Nazi soulmates cheering that their guy wasn’t going soft on immigration. Fox commentators provided an expected amen chorus, though some of their reporters acknowledged Trump’s language was disparaging and ham-handed.
Remember when Speaker Paul Ryan described candidate Trump’s assault on a Mexican heritage federal judge as a “textbook definition of racist comment.” This time he could only muster that the President’s language was “very unfortunate, unhelpful.” Shame on Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP Trump-enabling leadership team.
Republican Utah Congresswoman Mia Love, whose parents came from Haiti, said “The president must apologize to both the American people and the nations he so wantonly maligned.” But will she prepare a resolution condemning the remarks? Democrats will try to do so, but will Ryan or Senate President Mitch McConnell permit a vote? The press should get on record, preferably on tape, the response of every targeted, and retiring House and Senate Republican.
I assume Trump has never been to Africa and seen the modern cities that belie his “huts” slur or the graduate students in STEM fields and medicine who chose to stay and contribute to their home countries. I suspect he is also ignorant of data describing the reality of immigrants from his “shithole” countries who come here, many of whom do as well if not better than native-born Americans.
Since 1994, Presidents of both parties have participated in a day of service to commemorate Martin Luther King Day. Not Donald Trump. No, he took off for Florida for a round of golf. Better were he to attend a naturalization service for wounded veterans at Walter Reed Hospital and personally thank those from “shithole” countries who have sacrificed more for this country than he ever has.
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