As Trump and his sycophants try to pretend that Sen. Dick Durbin lied when he revealed that Trump had referred to “shithole” countries during that immigration meeting in the oval office, and far too many people pretend that the problem with this is the profanity, the Washington Post has a report on the meeting that shows just how ridiculous those arguments are.
First, the setup. After Trump had very publicly said during that televised meeting with Congressional leaders that he would sign a “clean” bill to codify DACA and wanted to get that done before doing a larger immigration reform bill, the right-wing xenophobes in his base went nuts. Durbin and a bipartisan group of senators worked on a deal that could pass for Trump to sign and Trump then invited him to the White House, along with Lindsey Graham, for a lunch to talk things over. Trump was pleased with their progress and wanted to get the deal done. But when they got there, they found that Sen. Tom Cotton, Rep. Bob Goodlatte and a couple other immigration hardliners were already there and had talked Trump into totally reversing course and rejecting the compromise bill.
That is what led to a very tense meeting and Trump was very combative, doing the opposite of what he had said to Durbin on the phone just a couple hours earlier. Just another massive flip flop by Trump, who always seems to be like a windsock flowing in the direction of whatever wind hit him last, in this case the hardcore racist and nativist elements of his own party. Then Durbin publicly revealed that Trump had said we should have less immigration from “shithole countries” like Haiti and those in Africa and more from places like Norway.
After not denying it for about 36 hours, Trump came out with a carefully parsed half-denial, saying, “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used.” In later tweets and statements, he and his defenders went on the attack, accusing Durbin of totally twisting his words. But here’s what the Post says about that:
Three White House officials said Perdue and Cotton told the White House that they heard “shithouse” rather than “shithole,” allowing them to deny the president’s comments on television over the weekend. The two men initially said publicly that they could not recall what the president said.
Wow. Such an outrageous distortion, he said shithouse instead of shithole. Such a liar, that Durbin! Absolutely ridiculous. And more importantly irrelevant. It isn’t that word that is the problem. As usual, Americans respond in the most childish way possible, clutching our pearls about naughty words rather than the ideas they express. Julian Sanchez nailed it:
As with “grab em by the pussy,” there’s a bit too much middle-school tee-heeing over a crude term. The offensive thing isn’t the word “shithole.” It’s the idea being born in a poor place makes you a lesser human. Tainted. Unworthy. That’s offensive however delicately you say it.
— Julian Sanchez (@normative) January 12, 2018
It isn’t the words “shithole” or “shithouse” that matter, it’s the claim that being from a place Trump deems one of those things makes the people there lesser and not as welcome as immigrants — and the fact that those countries are all full of brown and black people, while the ones he favors just happen to be, by pure coincidence — wink, wink — full of white people. No matter how polite the language he might have used, it’s still racist and it’s still wrong. The lies and distortions only make that worse.