‘Shithole countries:’ Proof that Trump is a racist?
It’s time to say it “without excuses, without evasions, without caveats,” said Scott Lucas in CNN.com: “Donald Trump is a racist.” Last week the president, in an Oval Office discussion with senators about a bipartisan immigration compromise, flared into anger when he heard Democrats mention the need to admit some people from Haiti, El Salvador, and various African nations. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” he asked. It would be better, Trump added, to get immigrants from places like Norway. After Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin leaked the comments to reporters—and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham confirmed them—Trump offered a vague denial that was backed by two GOP senators, Tom Cotton and David Perdue, reportedly on the paper-thin pretext that the word they heard was actually “shithouse.” Trump’s racism is hardly news, said Greg Sargent in WashingtonPost.com. He spent two years stoking the ridiculous “birther” theory that President Obama was born in Africa, launched his campaign vowing to keep out “rapist” Mexicans, and has waged endless Twitter vendettas against black, Hispanic, and Muslim people who dare to differ with him. With last week’s comparison of “shithole countries” with Norway, however, he’s proven that the reactionary heart of Trumpism is “white nationalism.”
Could Trump have “chosen his words more carefully?” said Wayne Allyn Root in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Yes, “but...who cares?” Once again the president has “said exactly (although crudely) what 63 million taxpayers who voted for him were thinking.” Why would a country already $20 trillion in debt and lacking enough jobs for its workers open its doors to low-skilled immigrants escaping Haiti, El Salvador, and the failed states of Africa? Trump’s salty language “horrifies our snowflake intellectuals,” said Scott McKay in Spectator.org, but Haiti and El Salvador really “are shitholes”—hotbeds of corruption, violence, and crime. Immigrants from these countries are less likely to arrive with “skills and qualities ensuring their positive participation in our society.” It’s not racist to say so.
The intellectual contortions of Trump’s defenders are “embarrassing to watch,” said David French in NationalReview.com. Yes, “some countries are worse places to live than others,” and there are reasonable arguments to be made for a “merit-based” immigration policy. But the president explicitly said we should judge immigrants based on their country of origin, rather than on their individual skills and education level. Trump has it backward, said Bret Stephens in The New York Times. Immigrants from dysfunctional countries “self-select,” and burn with ambition to advance themselves and join “the American miracle.” Our nation was built by waves of immigrants fleeing the “shithole” countries of their day.
None of us can know “Trump’s private thoughts or motivations,” said David Leonhardt in The New York Times, but his record in public life is “abundantly clear.” In 1973, Trump was sued for refusing to rent apartments to blacks. In 1989, he demanded the death penalty for five black and Latino youths accused of rape and stuck with that position even after DNA evidence exonerated them. Then came birtherism, his repellent “both sides” comment after Charlottesville, and his repeated, venomous attacks on Muslims and African-Americans. “Loyalty to Trump now consists of defending the indefensible,” said Michael Gerson in The Washington Post. In trafficking in racial stereotypes, fear, and division, “Trump has revealed who he is.” My fellow Republicans, “now we reveal who we are.” Have we no remaining decency and self-respect? ■