If the president’s dismissal of Black nations as “shithole countries” was a smack in the face, the racist comments coming on the eve of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend is the lingering sting from being slapped silly.
While Trump specifically said he’d prefer Norwegians entering the country instead of immigrants from African or Haiti, it was the timing of what the Rev. Al Sharpton called “deplorable statements” that also roiled civil rights leaders and groups. Not only were we on the verge of a national holiday for a civil rights icon, Friday also marked the eight year anniversary of the deadly, massive earthquake in Haiti that displaced hundreds of thousands of people and sent about 59,000 others to the U.S. under a temporary protection status that is set to expire next year.
“Trump uses white nationalist rhetoric to continue to explicitly defile, disrespect, and destroy communities of color, Sharpton, said in a statement released by the National Action Network (NAN) on Thursday, just hours after the president’s comments were first reported by the Washington Post. “As Martin Luther King Day approaches … NAN does not forget that this nation was built by immigrants, those who were forced to come to this country and that shaped its economy through 400 years of forced labor.”
The NAACP took it a step further and said the “decision to use profanity to describe African, Central American and Caribbean countries is not only a low mark for this President, it is a low point for our nation.” Likening Trump to Eugene “Bull” Connor, a notorious Alabama racist during the Civil Rights Movement, the NAACP said, “As King fought then, we fight today against those seeking to implement slicker and newer forms of racial segregation.”
The ACLU called it as they saw it: with a terse but apropos response.
The Black Alliance for Just Immigration had some like-minded words for the president, too, calling him “a racist.”
But perhaps it is the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus who spoke best to the potential actual implications behind Trump’s words were when Democratic Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond said the president’s “comments are further proof that his Make America Great Again agenda is really a Make America White Again agenda.”
While condemnation from Republicans was predictably not as swift, the comments proved to be too much for Utah Rep. Mia Love – who is of Haitian descent – to ignore.
The first term Republican congresswoman who previously broke from party ties by refusing to support Trump’s candidacy cited her parents’ legal immigration history and insisted the president say he’s sorry.
“[Love’s parents] never took a thing from our federal government. They worked hard, paid taxes, and rose from nothing to take care of and provide opportunities for their children. They taught their children to do the same. That’s the American Dream,” Love said in a statement released on Twitter. “The President must apologize to both the American people and the nations he so wantonly maligned.”