Three weeks ago, the New York Times reported that President Trump had said something hugely offensive about Haitians – that they “all have AIDS” – in a June meeting about immigration. The White House strenuously denied it, and the fact that the story landed on Dec. 23 helped it escape scandal proportions.
Trump won’t be so fortunate with his latest comments on Haiti.
The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey is reporting that Trump made a similar comment about wanting more immigrants from places like Norway rather than from “shithole counties” like Haiti and those in Africa.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” he told lawmakers during a meeting in the Oval Office on Thursday, according to two people briefing on the session. And this time, the White House isn't even denying it.
The comments represent the latest evidence that Trump views certain countries' inhabitants as less desirable than others. And after his move to ban travel from certain majority-Muslim countries, it won’t escape anyone that he’s now playing up the idea that we need more immigrants from places like Norway (which is overwhelmingly white) rather than Haiti and Africa (which are overwhelmingly black).
Trump’s defenders will likely argue that it’s more about how educated the country’s populaces are and the value their immigrants could bring to the United States. Haiti and countries in Africa certainly lag behind the rest of the world by almost any measure. Haiti ranks as one of the world's least-developed countries, according to the United Nations.
But if anything, Trump’s comment Thursday about Haiti lends credence to the Times’s report that Trump singled out the country for that particularly offensive treatment back in June. Trump added in that June meeting that immigrants from Nigeria, once they saw the United States, would never “go back to their huts,” according to the Times. Is it really any surprise that he again focused his comments on African countries and Haiti, out of all the countries in the world? (Trump also singled out El Salvador for derision on Thursday.)
Picking Trump's most offensive comment out of everything he's said over the last three years is a difficult task. There was the time he criticized prisoners of war like John McCain for getting captured. There were the many things he has said about women's appearances and about grabbing them by the "p---y." He made a reference to his genitalia at a presidential debate (lest we forget).
But these comments are sure to draw almost universal -- and international -- condemnation. And the fact that Trump feels comfortable making such remarks behind closed doors with lawmakers makes you wonder what else he's said behind closed doors.