I really would rather not write all the time about President Trump and his latest escapades. I honestly would rather write about just about anything else. But sometimes, President Trump is alleged to have said something that simply can’t be ignored.
So it is with the allegation that, during a meeting with congressional leaders about American immigration policy issues, Trump referred to Haiti and some countries in Africa as “shitholes” and said American policy should try to restrict immigration from those places. Trump later issued tweets that seem to deny the use of that vulgar term, as well as disputing the notion that his remarks were racially motivated, although he admitted to using “tough” language during the meeting. On the other hand, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, who attended the meeting, confirms the report that Trump used the word “shithole” to describe the countries.
Could it really be that the President of the United States used the term “shithole” to describe another sovereign nation, however strife-torn or impoverished or economically or socially challenged it might be? Could it really be that the President of the United States, who as the head of the executive branch of the government is the titular head of the American diplomatic corps, used such crass, inflammatory, undiplomatic language in an official meeting? Could it really be that the President of the United States is so profoundly ill-mannered and graceless and brutal? Could it really be that the President of the United States wouldn’t recognize that people would interpret such remarks as racially motivated and that world leaders would react with shock and horror to such statements? It’s mind-boggling . . . but in the era of the Trump presidency the mind-boggling has become commonplace.
But let’s give our elected President the benefit of the doubt and accept his denial that he used that coarse term, and assume that Senator Durbin and any other sources for the news reports simply misheard whatever “tough language” the President actually used. What’s equally bad, from my perspective, is that some Trump supporters have actually tried to defend the early reports of Trump’s alleged “shithole” remarks by arguing that the term accurately describes the countries. Such arguments, which speak so dismissively and callously about countries where human beings live, and work, and struggle, solely in order to advance a political point, show an appalling lack of basic human kindness and decency and simple good manners. Calling someone else’s country a “shithole” is almost sadistic in its cruelty.
It’s another deeply troubling sign of just how low and horrible our political discourse and culture have become. Where is our humanity, and basic decency?