The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Now can we call the president a white supremacist?

President Trump. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
Placeholder while article actions load

In September, ESPN anchor Jemele Hill tweeted that President Trump is a “white supremacist.” An avalanche of criticism followed: The White House demanded her firing; conservatives and even some liberals condemned her as hyperbolic. ESPN issued a statement that her tweets “crossed the line” and Hill was forced to apologize.

On Thursday, Trump proved once and for all that Hill wasn’t crossing a line, but merely stating a fact: The president is, by definition a white supremacist.

According to The Post, while meeting with lawmakers to discuss an immigration deal, Trump asked, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

He did so in reference specifically to Haiti and African countries, and went on to suggest that the United States should let in more people from Norway, whose prime minister visited the White House Wednesday.

It’s hard to imagine how the president could have been more plainly racist.

The White House did not deny the quotes. Indeed, White House staffers told CNN they weren’t worried about the comment because it would “resonate with his base … much like his attacks on NFL players.” Sorry, there are no prizes for guessing what NFL players and African immigrants have in common.

The evidence for Trump’s racism has long been overwhelming. His real estate company violated the Fair Housing Act. He fueled his political rise with toxic birtherism. As a candidate he opted for a orchestra of dog whistles, including being slow to renounce David Duke. Less than a month ago it was reported he said in June that Haitian visa recipients “all have AIDS” and Nigerian visa recipients would never “go back to their huts” now that they were in the United States. (The White House denied the report.)

WATCH: The White House and big brands care more about the word "racist" than they do about racism, says Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah. (Video: Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)

Yet as Hill’s experience showed, many have been loath to out-and-out call Trump what he is. Fortunately, these new comments may prove to be a tipping point. “The president seems to harbor racist feelings about people of color from other parts of the world,” said CNN’s Jim Acosta for one. Republican Rep. Mia Love demanded the president “apologize” for his “unacceptable” rhetoric. Others should follow their example.

Admitting Trump is a white supremacist is more than just using the label, though. It means reckoning with how it affects his administration’s priorities. Is it a coincidence, for example, that the president who sees Haiti as a “shithole” but Norway as “good” in office has all but ignored Puerto Rico’s pleas for aid months after devastating hurricanes? What about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s commitment to the war on drugs? And what about his policies on immigration, the issue that sparked these latest slurs? Only this way can we truly contend with the corrosiveness of having a racist in the Oval Office.

Read more:

Ann Telnaes: Trump’s ‘shithole’ slip of the tongue

Tom Toles: President Trump, what kind of ‘shithole’ country are you turning the United States into?

Alexandra Petri: Trump and ‘shithole’: I’m shocked, shocked!

Jennifer Rubin: Republicans: More reasons to be scared about the midterms

Joel Dreyfuss: No, President Trump, we Haitians don’t all have AIDS

Karen Attiah: The dark side of Trump’s focus on immigration and ‘merit’