President Trump called the continent of Africa and the countries of Haiti and El Salvador “shitholes” yesterday, telling congressional leaders he wished the U.S. could get more Norwegians instead.
In trying to explain the president’s vulgar indictment of millions of people today, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack told 49/20 News he tries “to look beyond the exact words he [Trump] uses.” The 3rd District congressman used a different word: depraved. Un-Norwegianlike.
“What I think the president is saying is that if you’re only appealing to people from countries that are behind the times, depraved countries, if that’s the element that you’re appealing to, and of course a lot of those folks are wanting to come to America and pursue the American dream, then he feels like that we should make the same or a better appeal to people from other European countries et cetera that can come in here and actually fit into the society as we know it and do the kinds of things that will make America a prosperous nation.”
See, Norwegians fit in. Haitians? Not so much, unless they’re working at Mar-a-Lago.
Sen. Tom Cotton didn’t cover himself in glory, either. His response to the president’s words, provided in a statement to 40/29, which for some reason he and Sen. David Perdue of Georgia released together:
“President Trump brought everyone to the table this week and listened to both sides. But regrettably, it seems that not everyone is committed to negotiating in good faith. In regards to Senator Durbin’s accusation, we do not recall the President saying these comments specifically but what he did call out was the imbalance in our current immigration system, which does not protect American workers and our national interest. We, along with the President, are committed to solving an issue many in Congress have failed to deliver on for decades.”
And Boozman avoided the subject:
“The United States has always been a place of asylum and refuge for those fleeing their own countries as a result of corruption, dysfunction or deteriorating resources and conditions. Our country is made of immigrants. This diversity is what makes our country great and something all citizens should be proud of. No matter where people come from, they all deserve dignity and respect.”
Want to hear a real response to Trump’s description of countries that send brown skins instead of white? Watch this video of Bakari Sellers’ comments on Anderson Cooper’s 360 show on CNN last night. In response to Cooper’s observation that the president’s comments were ignorant, Sellers said he “sick and tired of good people who will not stand up and call this for what it is”: racism. Emphasis is ours.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, but I think that — I mean I have to give Jason [Miller, Trump defender on the panel] the name of my chiropractor for getting in that pretzel to defend this nonsense. I mean, the comments that the president made were asinine, they were ignorant, any other adjective you want to add to this discussion. But why are we surprised? I mean, why is this breaking news?
I mean, if we go back in history, this is the same man sued by the Department of Justice and used to put a little “C” on black people’s applications for color. Why are we surprised? This is the same person who was sued by African-American and minority dealers in his casino. Why are we surprised? This is the same man who still has not apologized for the Central Park Five.
I mean, down here in South Carolina, we look our and throw our hands up to black folk and said we have tried to tell you this is who this man was. It’s not as if he was just showing you his heart today. Stokely Carmichael once said a white man who wants to lynch me, that is his problem. A white man who has the power to lynch me, that is my problem.
Racism is a question of power, not of attitude. So when we say that the president of the United States is racist, it’s because he harbors these views and he has the power to implement policy which subjugate these people to oppress the systems. I mean, this is not rocket science. And I’m not surprised at all.
And I’m actually more surprised and this is what drives me up a wall, Anderson. This is the problem with the discussion that we’re having. People want to say, oh, my God, he’s talking to economic anxiety voters or he’s giving red meat to his base. The hell with all of that.
I am sick and tired of the good people in this country who support Donald Trump, who will not stand up and call this for what it is. We have an issue with race in this country that dates long back before Donald Trump and long back before Barack Obama and George Bush and Bill Clinton and George Bush. But we have never dealt with that issue because good people sit on their hands.
Maybe Womack was thinking of the words from “West Side Story,” when the teenager sings, “Hey, I’m depraved on account I’m deprived!”
UPDATE: State Rep. Michael John Gray, who also heads the state Democratic Party, condemned Womack’s remarks in a statement:
“The Republican Party is better than what we’ve seen from its leaders over the past 24 hours,” Chairman Gray said. “What Representative Womack said today was racist and quite frankly embarrassing for the people of Arkansas’ 3rd District. I’ve spent enough time in that area of the state to know that the 3rd District is full of good, decent people — people far above Representative Womack’s words today. They know how to treat their neighbor with decency and respect. The people of northwestern Arkansas deserve a leader who reflects its people’s decency.”