By Emily Dwyer
On Thursday, January 11, President Trump held a meeting on DACA and immigration reform. The meeting unleashed a heated controversy after reports were released of the president using hateful, vulgar language towards African nations.
President Trump reportedly stated, “Why do we want all these people from ‘shithole countries’ coming here?” referring to countries in Africa, followed up by remarks such as, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.” He also reportedly commented that he preferred people from nations such as Norway, a predominately white and wealthy country.
The immediate shock to hear the leader of the free world make a statement brooding with such bigotry and racism was a shock and dark moment in our history and the low point of a relatively young presidency. Almost immediately, people around the globe reacted to the comments through a variety of acts that served to depict a swift denouncement of the hate filled statements by President Trump. People from Haiti and Africa responded by sharing captivating images of their homelands with the hashtag “#myshitholecountry” to cast a light on beautiful scenery to contrast the negative portrait the President had painted of their areas. Trump denies the comments were made, claiming he was harsh on immigration, but never uttered those phrases. News sources as well as many of those attending the meeting maintain, however, that Trump did in fact make racist remarks.
The comments made by Donald Trump were not merely words or misspoken statements. These comments illuminate that our president does not believe that all those in this nation that he leads deserve equal rights and treatment. They display that he prefers those who look like him and are rich like him. These comments say that if they are not white and wealthy, Trump doesn’t want them here.
What ever happened to the words engraved on the Statue of Liberty and on the heart of every American, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” (Emma Lazarus)? We did not welcome immigrants into Ellis Island with a list of criteria engraved on the statue of how one should look, what one should believe, and what one should earn in order to enter. We welcome with words that point towards acceptance of those who are escaping oppression, seeking refuge in the “Melting Pot” that is our nation. We have to use our more fortunate state in the world to help those who are suffering post natural disasters, wars, and other catastrophic events. With the words spoken by President Trump, we would only be accepting those who are wealthy and privileged enough to survive without America’s aid. Not to mention white.
Between the Trump administration Muslim ban, support for “both sides” at a KKK and white supremacist rally in Virginia, shameless promotion of the conspiracy theory “birther movement” about President Obama, calling Mexicans drug addicts and rapists, hesitance to denounce David Duke (former KKK leader), and his latest comments about Africa and Haiti, only one sad and terrifying conclusion can be drawn: America’s electoral system elected a racist, a racist who was not elected by the majority of the popular vote, but was elected nonetheless. We cannot allow this rhetoric to be normalized. Every bigoted or hateful action, policy, and comment must be called out for what it is. Silence is complacency, and we must speak out for every human who is under attack for their race, religion, or just being themselves. As Martin Niemöller once spoke, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
We are all human, and when they attack one of us, it is an attack on us all.