On January 12 The Washington Post reported that in a meeting held at the Oval Office with congressional leaders, President Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations as “s***hole countries.” The meeting was centered on protection for immigrants from these nations. Word of this spread across all mediums of media. Critics on both sides of the aisle voiced outrage at how un-presidential Trump had acted along with how bigoted his comments came across. Surely even his most hardcore of supporters couldn’t defend him in this case without themselves coming across as ignorant and bigoted, right?
It should come as no surprise that there were still affluent figures in the media who came to the defense of the president. Conservative commentator Tomi Lahren tweeted, “If they aren’t s***hole countries, why don’t their citizens stay there? Let’s be honest. Call it like it is.” The logic of this defense is so backward to the fundamentals of immigration that it makes you wonder if Ms. Lahren supports any form of immigration at all. This tweet has been ridiculed for its suggestion that people move just to escape where they’re from.
Conservative radio show host Ann Coulter also tweeted in support of Trump’s comments. “Announcing the opening of S***hole Air — Free, 1-way travel, back to the country of your choice.” This tweet has managed to escalate the original sentiments of Trump’s comments that implied he didn’t want to let people into the nation simply because they’re trying to enter from a poorer country to going so far as to send people back because they may be from a developing nation. It’s maddening that people can consider these to be legitimate defenses to the suggestion that we deny people the right of immigration into the States because of the nation they’re coming from.
Others have come to the defense of the president by stating he’s not referring to the people of these countries but the countries themselves. Sure, that’s what he said. He also said this in the context of a conversation about immigration. If the president wasn’t grouping citizens and potential American immigrants with their nations of origin in naming them as s***holes, then why did he make the remark in a conversation about the protection of these very people? This defense simply doesn’t work.
People have already torn the president’s remarks for being highly unprofessional in his influential position, as well as for being pretty xenophobic. I think it’s time we also push hard on the idea of denying people from developing countries and accepting people from first world nations is completely crippling to the core tenant of American immigration. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” This is the poem that is inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty and serves as the foundation for the concept of America being a melting pot of diverse people from rough beginnings coming to our country to build new lives of their own. To suggest that we push for more immigration from Europe and Scandinavia instead of from Central America and Africa is to suggest turning our backs to the principles that designed the country to look the way it does today.
When it comes to Trump, there are usually times when I can look at situations from his perspective and from the outlook of the conservative right to understand and maybe even sympathize with their comments and speeches. I’ve written articles in the past that have somewhat come to Trump’s defense because what he’s doing makes sense if you look at it in a certain light, as awkward as that lighting may be. In this case, however, there simply isn’t any defense to what he has said and how it reflects his ideals. It’s un-Presidential, it’s xenophobic and it’s un-American; and it’s time we called it as it is.