UPDATE: Fending off criticism from across the globe, President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted out his denial of claims he called nations from Africa, as well as Latin American nations like Haiti and El Salvador, “shithole countries” during immigration talks with Congressional lawmakers at the White House.
Trump responded that "this was not the language used" in a tweet.
The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018
The president then claimed that the story was “made up by Dems” in his tweet, adding that he “probably should record future meetings” in the Oval Office.
Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said “take them out.” Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings - unfortunately, no trust!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018
Yet there are several reasons to doubt Trump’s accounts. None of the lawmakers have denied Trump’s use of the word, including Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who were present when Trump allegedly made the comments. His own White House didn’t deny that the president used the vulgar term either just hours after they were reported on.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) was also present during the meeting, and confirmed to media that Trump indeed labeled those nations in the derogatory way that previous reporting had indicated.
“I have seen the comments in the press, I have not read one of them that's inaccurate,” Durbin told reporters. Trump “said things that were hate-filled, vile and racist,” he added, emphasizing that “l use those words advisingly, I understand how powerful they are.”
“I cannot believe that in the history of the White House and that Oval Office any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday,” Durbin said.
The international community was quick to condemn the derogatory and insensitive remarks from the president as well. “These are shocking and shameful comments from the President of the United States,” spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville said. “There is no other word you can use but 'racist.’”
Colville elaborated his point, explaining the president’s words normalized bigoted opinions and expressions. “This isn't just a story about vulgar language,” Colville said, “it's about opening the door to humanity's worst side, about validating and encouraging racism and xenophobia.”
The African Union expressed dismay at Trump’s opinion of them. “Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice,” AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said. “This is particularly surprising as the United States of America remains a global example of how migration gave birth to a nation built on strong values of diversity and opportunity.”
The ripples of Trump’s racist remarks about immigrants and the countries they come from are being felt across the world. His denial is not being believed — nor should it be, given that no witnesses to his words are coming out and supporting his assertion.
Trump’s insistence that immigration preferences should be given to predominantly white, European countries, and that other nations with immigrants coming to the U.S. are “shithole countries,” exposes his blatant racism, which historically has always been evident. There is no way for the president to weasel out of this: his words demonstrate his bigotry, plain and simple.
Make no mistake: Calling countries like Haiti, El Salvador and African nations "shithole" is not a gaffe or statement uttered during a heated argument. It's racism. Plain, in-your-face, repugnant racism.
And U.S. President Donald Trump unabashedly engaged in this plain, in-your-face, repugnant racism this week.
During a closed meeting on immigration with lawmakers in the Oval Office, Trump lamented immigrants coming from “shithole countries” like Haiti and nations in Africa rather than from Norway.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” the president said, sources told The Washington Post. “We should have more people from places like Norway.”
It is important to mention here that Trump spewed these words a day before the eighth anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2010, devastating earthquake in Haiti. The 7.0-magnitude tremor killed more than 160,000 and displaced close to 1.5 million people.
There's no doubt as to the racist nature of the comment. The POTUS clearly made a distinction between white and non-white countries and admitted he preferred people hailing from the former.
However, is it really surprising coming from Trump?
Just last month, the former media mogul reportedly said people coming from Haiti “all have AIDS” and Nigerians “would never go back to their huts.” When he was a presidential candidate, he referred to Mexican people as "rapists" and "murderers." He repeatedly refers to Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas," which is a racial slur.
Trump's history of spewing racist vitriol is plenty, public and well-documented.
The White House didn't deny the president's usage of the term "shithole" and, predictably, defended it with a more racist statement.
“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” said White House spokesperson Raj Shah.
Meanwhile, Trump's remarks unleashed a storm of criticism, and rightfully so. CNN's Anderson Cooper delivered a powerful response on his show, pointing out how Haitians have fought back against more injustice than Trump ever has.
"Let me be clear.... the people of Haiti have been through more, withstood more, fought back against more injustice... than our President ever has" Anderson Cooper choked back tears as he reflected on his relationship with Haiti, and its people https://t.co/3arEalkKOM— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) January 12, 2018
Here's more reaction:
As a Louisianian, I'm proud of what Don Lemon of Baton Rouge & Charles Blow of Gibsland said tonight on CNN.— Lamar White, Jr (@LamarWhiteJr) January 12, 2018
"I'm a descendant of people from a shithole country," Lemon said. "& I'm sitting here on television & I get to hold the President's feet to the fire. God Bless America."
Dear God: Help me see this rightly. If this is not about race as they are saying, help ME see it rightly. - Trump said, "Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They're shithole countries ... We should have more people from Norway." And tell me why I am not surprised.— Iyanla Vanzant (@IyanlaVanzant) January 12, 2018
Why are we having all these people from shithole countries coming here.......is something I imagine lots of Native Americans were asking.— (((YousefMunayyer))) (@YousefMunayyer) January 12, 2018
I covered military action in Haiti, the return of Aristide, the 1st elections, the UN peacekeeping force, the earthquake - followed by UN workers introducing cholera. Haiti has suffered enough from international neglect and natural disasters. They don't need Trump.— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) January 12, 2018