“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
This repulsive comment did not come from the mouth of a Ku Klux Klan member or a known neo-Nazist, but the leader of a nation made great by people from all races and from all over the world, including those who came from countries US President Donald Trump describes as “shitholes.”
Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, said in a meeting at the Oval Office with Trump, lawmakers were speaking about immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti who have temporary protected status in the US due to disasters and political upheavals in their home countries when the President interjected and made that remark that will go down in infamy: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
According to some present, Mr. Trump went on to suggest that the United States should consider bringing more people from places like Norway.
Of course, Trump now denies he ever said those words, although insiders say the President was never apologetic nor showed remorse when talking to friends, obviously bigots like him, about the racist remark.
If it were the first incident of racist nature involving Trump, perhaps people can accept that it was spoken during an unguarded moment. But Trump has trekked a long path of bigotry and racism for us to take such remark with a grain of salt.
New York Times columnists David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick compiled a long list of incidents that showed Trump’s long history of racism and bigotry. Here are some of them:
- Trump’s real-estate company was sued twice by the federal government in the 1970s for discouraging the renting of apartments to African-Americans and preferring white tenants, such as “Jews and executives.”
- Trump treated black employees at his casinos differently from whites, according to multiple sources. A former president of one of Trump’s resort hotel said Trump criticized a black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks.”
- In 1989, Trump took out ads in New York newspapers urging the death penalty for five black and Latino teenagers accused of raping a white woman in Central Park; he continued to argue that they were guiltyas late as October 2016, more than 10 years after DNA evidence had exonerated them.
- He began his 2016 presidential campaign with a speech disparaging Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists.
- In December 2015, Trump called fora “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States, including refusing to readmit Muslim-American citizens who were outside of the country at the time.
- In June 2017, Trump said 15,000 recent immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS” and that 40,000 Nigerians, once seeing the United States, would never “go back to their huts” in Africa.
- He often casts heavily black American cities as dystopian war zones. In a 2016 debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump said, “Our inner cities, African Americans, Hispanics are living in hell because it’s so dangerous. You walk down the street, you get shot.” Trump also said to black voters: “You’re living in poverty; your schools are no good; you have no jobs.”
- He called some of those who marched alongside white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., last August “very fine people.”
- In the 1990s, Trump took out advertisementsalleging that the “Mohawk Indian record of criminality is well documented.” At the time, he was fighting competition for his casino business.
That Trump made his “shithole” remark just a few days before the day commemorating the life of civil rights champion Martin Luther King Jr. speaks highly of his contempt for people of color. His campaign promise to make American great again obviously means to make America white again because he mistakenly thinks whites are superior to people of color, that the white people alone made this country the great nation that it is, and that recent immigrants, particularly those coming from “shithole” countries are bringing down America.
On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech during the March in Washington on Jobs and Freedom. In that speech, he said:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
That dream that the civil rights movement fought hard to achieve through decades of struggle could become a nightmare as Trump seeks to enforce a policy of discrimination, racism and bigotry.
As Filipino-Americans of the new generation, we don’t want to see signs that greeted the early Filipinos in America wishing to get into hotels and restaurants: “Positively no Filipinos allowed.”
As Americans, we need to make a stand against racism. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, says, “It’s not enough to just respond with anger. We have to build a political movement in this country which says that that is not who we are and we will not tolerate that type of moral inadequacy.”
We must join a call by one political columnist who called on “voters of good conscience” to rid the Senate and the House of Representatives of Trump’s and racism’s defenders, apologists and accomplices in the mid-term elections this year. And make sure Trump doesn’t get a second term in 2020.
Racism has no place in America, especially in the White House and other corridors of power.