Just days before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one of the most important celebrations in the Americas, United States President Donald Trump used vulgar slang to express his feelings about El Salvador, Haiti, and African countries.
The incident took place in the White House, more precisely in the Oval Office, where Trump had invited senior legislators to discuss the thorny issue of immigration, which is in desperate need of reform. The topic of the visa lottery was brought up, and when Trump was informed that applications were open to people from African nations, Haiti and El Salvador, he asked why people from these countries—which he reportedly described as holes dug in the ground to deposit excrement—were being allowed to immigrate, instead of people from Norway, whom he thinks would be a better fit for the US. The President’s ignorant tirade ended with “why do we need more Haitians?”
As can be expected, most lawmakers assembled in the Oval Office were shocked, while others just sighed as they considered the episode just another scandalous moment in the deplorable Trump administration; however, the international furor was immediate. Former President Vicente Fox of Mexico remarked that the only hole to deposit excrement that he can see is Trump’s mouth. In Haiti, government officials summoned American diplomats while in the US, Representative Mia Love, a Haitian American, took great exception to Trump’s clearly racist comments.
From Johannesburg, a spokeswoman for the African Union remarked that Trump’s comment was unacceptable, particularly given the history of African Americans and their contributions to the United States. In Botswana, officials summoned American diplomats while President Macky Sall of Senegal commented that Africans merit respect, not insults. This is not the first time members of the Trump family have denigrated Africa; in 2012, one of Donald Trump’s sons expressed on Twitter that he had no shame killing several beasts while on a hunting safari in Zimbabwe.
This latest Trump incident has been condemned by political analysts who believe that the President’s comments underscore his racist streak and ignorance. First of all, his preference for immigrants from Norway is misguided since people from that Nordic country enjoy much higher standards of life compared to Americans, and thus would have no reason to move to the US. Second, Trump later tried to clumsily explain that he was only referring to Haiti’s high crime rate; this is another ignorant claim since in 2012, the murder rate in that Caribbean nation was actually lower than in American cities such as Baltimore, not far from the White House.
Amazingly, Trump spoke about equality and unity for all Americans regardless of origin the next day; this happened in preparation of MLK Day next week; however, he was reading from a prepared statement.