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Trump's 'shithole' comment is his new rock bottom

On Thursday, in a meeting with a senators and House members on immigration,...

Posted: Jan 12, 2018 9:30 AM
Updated: Jan 12, 2018 9:30 AM

On Thursday, in a meeting with a senators and House members on immigration, the President of the United States, asked this: "Why do we want all these people from 'shithole countries' coming here?"

Yes, he said "shithole countries" -- apparently in reference to the fact that immigrants from places like El Salvador, Haiti and Africa were being protected in a potential bipartisan deal to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and secure funding for border security.

What's even more appalling is that the White House didn't even try to deny that Trump used that slur, which was first reported in The Washington Post. In fact, in a lengthy statement from White House spokesman Raj Shah, the administration seemed to even defend the sentiment. "Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people," said Shah.

But it gets even worse. Asked about the "shithole" comments, a White House official told CNN's Kaitlan Collins this:

"The President's 'shithole' remark is being received much differently inside of the White House than it is outside of it. Though this might enrage Washington, staffers predict the comment will resonate with his base, much like his attacks on NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem did not alienate it."

Stop. Read that again. Here's what it means: The President's voicing of a racist remark about the sorts of people whom we are letting into the country is actually a good thing because people who like Trump will agree with him.

Make no mistake: This is the lowest ebb of a presidency defined by a series of low ebbs and defining of the presidency downward. Yes, lower than Trump's comments about Mexico sending us "rapists" and "criminals." Lower than questioning Sen. John McCain's military service. Lower than his impugning of a judge because of his Mexican heritage. Lower than his questioning the motives of a Gold Star family. Lower than the 2,000 mistruths and outright falsehoods he has said since becoming President. Lower than his racially-tinged attacks on the anthem protests by NFL players. Lower even than his "both sides" argument in the wake of white supremacist violence against peaceful protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

This is not only a President of the United States voicing racist sentiment in front of a group of people. It is also doubling down on those sentiments -- proudly! -- because it might advance his political power among his base.

This is -- much like Charlottesville -- an abdication of the moral authority of the presidency, but it's more than that: It's saying, quite simply, that saying racist stuff is a-OK as long as it works politically.

There are things that are -- or should be -- beyond politics. The most important of those things is the belief that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

It's right there in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. And, "we believe these truths to be self evident" because, well, they are. The progress to a more perfect union hasn't always honored this pledge as it should. But this is 2018. Can't we agree that discriminating against people based on what they look like -- or what country they might come from -- is wrong?

Apparently not, according to President Trump.

Let's not make any mistake here: What was being discussed in the meeting in which Trump called Haiti and El Salvador "shithole countries" was not illegal immigration. This was a proposal to end the visa lottery, which Trump has repeatedly falsely suggested leads to other countries gaming the system to send the US their worst people, and replace it with affording a group of countries Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

Nor should we dismiss this sentiment as a one off by Trump. Remember this June 2016 meeting, first reported by The New York Times, in which Trump was angrily decrying the fact that lots of immigrants from what he believed were less-desirable countries were still entering the country. The Times writes:

"Haiti had sent 15,000 people. They 'all have AIDS,' [Trump] grumbled, according to one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there.

Forty thousand had come from Nigeria, Mr. Trump added. Once they had seen the United States, they would never 'go back to their huts' in Africa, recalled the two officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive conversation in the Oval Office."

These sorts of noxious views are a feature not a glitch for Donald Trump. Everything in his history as a candidate and as President screams for that conclusion. For every "bill of love" pronouncement Trump makes, there are double-digit times in which he has said things -- publicly and privately -- that any reasonable person would describe as racially tinged at best and flat-out racist at worst.

Let me remind you in case you have forgotten: This is the President of the United States we are talking about. The President of ALL 300 million people -- not just the ones who voted for Trump and who might respond well to his "shithole" comments. The President of a country literally built on the idea of a melting pot of immigrants.

The discussion of whether this will resonate with Trump's base then is deeply cynical and totally misses the point. There need to be things that are right and things that are wrong, things that we can all agree we should do or not do. Whether or not these things have some political resonance with some group of people is immaterial.

We are talking about the President of the United States here! Not some fringe talk radio host? Not some blogger. The single most powerful person in the country. The symbol of the United States to the rest of the world.

Whether or not you voted for Trump, whether or not you still support him, whether or not you think this "shithole" comment will land well with his base, you need to acknowledge that voicing views like these is simply wrong. It is, quite literally, anti-American. Period. Full Stop.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 611039

Reported Deaths: 9716
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion844351336
Lake45508685
Allen32891552
Hamilton29546315
St. Joseph27449381
Elkhart24440345
Vanderburgh19513250
Tippecanoe18043140
Johnson15140295
Porter14865169
Hendricks14440248
Madison11009222
Vigo10769181
Clark10731144
Monroe9424113
Delaware9152134
LaPorte9103164
Howard8268144
Kosciusko808983
Warrick676599
Hancock6741104
Bartholomew6523100
Floyd6469110
Wayne6157162
Grant6011116
Dubois556980
Boone554668
Morgan545795
Henry509764
Marshall505384
Cass485264
Dearborn483245
Noble474059
Jackson426747
Shelby419581
Lawrence392980
Clinton374243
Gibson372559
Harrison350945
DeKalb348264
Montgomery346554
Knox335839
Miami323044
Steuben314545
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Jefferson264738
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Greene241162
Posey240328
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Scott225739
Clay223532
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Jennings199336
Sullivan192933
Spencer192422
Washington187523
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Starke175643
Jay168223
Owen166837
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Carroll159115
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Parke13088
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Blackford111422
Pulaski97337
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Crawford8069
Martin74413
Warren6857
Switzerland6665
Union6287
Ohio4957
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 864322

Reported Deaths: 10711
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin101705707
Cuyahoga860661145
Hamilton64392448
Montgomery43309418
Summit35063761
Lucas31500625
Butler31128232
Stark25933435
Warren19746141
Lorain19165223
Mahoning17383338
Lake16178154
Clermont16057111
Delaware1445479
Licking13274137
Fairfield1287781
Trumbull12861316
Greene12114139
Medina11666168
Clark10995265
Wood10407158
Allen9945126
Portage9382109
Miami921073
Richland9186118
Marion7467113
Tuscarawas7410182
Columbiana7356124
Pickaway728450
Wayne7080171
Muskingum705241
Erie6188129
Hancock554390
Ross5532100
Scioto541664
Geauga513555
Darke471092
Lawrence457958
Ashtabula454673
Union454628
Sandusky438562
Mercer434489
Seneca431566
Huron430041
Auglaize423064
Shelby421922
Jefferson420569
Belmont417740
Washington391840
Athens38129
Putnam376275
Madison356529
Knox354422
Ashland347438
Fulton339343
Defiance332286
Crawford323874
Preble321437
Brown313921
Logan309132
Ottawa294943
Clinton290743
Williams279467
Highland276718
Jackson265345
Guernsey256326
Champaign252628
Fayette237330
Morrow23334
Perry232018
Holmes225674
Henry220149
Hardin214033
Coshocton205722
Van Wert202645
Gallia198826
Wyandot196151
Pike177417
Adams176915
Hocking172624
Carroll156216
Paulding144721
Noble120740
Meigs109024
Monroe101032
Harrison89421
Morgan83430
Vinton70813
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