MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, MD., January 14, 2018: On this weekend that highlights the celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday, we must again deal with President Trump’s alleged racism, ignorance and insensitivity. In a January 11 meeting, Trump supposedly called countries that have produced a lot of immigrants to the U.S. “shithole countries.”
Some people in the meeting with his accuser, Sen. Dick Durbin, say it never happened.
The meeting was held with legislators from both parties. Trump was reported as asking, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” with reference to Haiti, El Salvador and some African countries.
He remarked that we should get more immigrants from countries like Norway.
Some members of Trump’s base embraced the politically incorrect utterance. White supremacists including Neo-Nazis were happy to report that Trump is acting like they would want him to act, as published in their online newspaper, “The Daily Stormer”.
Trump denies that he used the term to describe Haiti or El Salvador. His staff characterizes his talk in that meeting as tough, focused on his concern that we protect the safety of the United States.
Many politicians, heads of state and common citizens have condemned Trump’s comment. Martin Luther King’s nephew, interviewed as he left a White House event honoring his uncle, said that he does not believe Trump is a racist, but instead is ignorant about racism.
That is probably one of the nicest things being said about Trump’s remarks. The fact is that Trump has been making these types of statements for a long time when referring to people of color. He has also said that he is the least racist person alive when asked about his racial views.
People who voted for Trump say that one of the characteristics that resonated with them was their candidate’s complete disinterest in political correctness. Many said that he talks like they do when they are with friends. They concluded that he understood them and was going to make their lives better.
Not quite. Trump is part of the privileged class. He may talk like a contractor from Queens, but he is not a man of the working class. He does not really understand them and he will not have their backs.
There are many examples of blue-collar workers, small business owners and other ordinary people being shafted by Trump’s organizations.
Where does political incorrectness end and insensitivity and insult begin? Is it okay to refer to people in any way we please? Is it okay to use “redneck”, “wop”, “mic”, “spic”, “gook” or “nigger” in conversation to refer to white blue-collar persons, Irish, Hispanics, Vietnamese or African Americans?
If not, why should we use “shithole countries” to refer to developing countries, or even countries mired in war?
Language and symbols matter. Concern about Confederate flags and Confederate monuments in public places is based on recognition of that fact. You can claim all you like that a swastika is just an ancient symbol of good fortune, but when you wear one on your sleeve or lapel, the world doesn’t conclude that you’re Hindu.
Racist or racially ignorant?
How long should it take for someone to realize that always focusing on the negative behaviors of specific groups of people is racism? President Trump has had all his adult life to figure this out and we should not allow him to use the ignorance card.
The fact that his speech still resonates with his base when he shows his racism is scary. It is as if the 1960s and 1970s never happened.
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is of mixed ancestry and comes from a “shithole country” (not just classified so by Trump). He is in Twitter (@chibcharus), Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook (Mario Salazar).