President Donald Trump’s assault on common decency continued when he made disparaging, below the belt comments on Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa on Thursday.
During a White House meeting with lawmakers, Trump dismissed Haiti, El Salvador and Africa as “shithole countries” whose inhabitants are not desirable for US immigration. His remarks were met with shock and global condemnation.
The African Union said it was ‘alarmed’ by Trump’s comments. “The African Union Commission is frankly alarmed at statements by the President of the United States when referring to migrants of African countries and others in such contemptuous terms,” said Ebba Kalondo, the spokeswoman for commission chair Moussa Faki. “Considering the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the US during the Atlantic slave trade, this flies in the face of all accepted behaviour and practice.”
Trump’s comments were first reported by The Washington Post. The US President has made off colour remarks at nearly every turn but this is the first time he has offended continents and races openly.
The reaction from United Nations human rights spokesman Rupert Colville was uncharacteristically blunt, describing the remarks as “racist.” “There is no other word one can use but ‘racist,” he said at a briefing in Geneva. “You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes,’ whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”
The remarks sparked outrage in different parts of the world with populations taking to social media to express their anger. Kenyans On Twitter (KOT), a vocal constituent of Kenyans online unafraid of expressing their opinions, called out Trumps in a series of Tweets.
The Star cartoonist Victor Ndula posted an image of Trump, in whose head the map of Africa featured with exotically named locations such as “west of the shithole,” “southern shithole” and “horn of the shithole” for Kenya’s.
Athlete Bernard Lagat, who competed for Kenya at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia also tweeted. “I’m a proud son of the shining continent called Africa. My heritage is deeply rooted in my Kenyan roots. Africa is NO #shithole, Mr Trump.” Lagat now competes for the US.
In South Africa, the ruling and anti-apartheid party, the African National Congress termed Trump’s remarks as ‘extremely offensive.’
“Ours is not a shithole country, neither is Haiti or any other country in distress,” Jessie Duarte, the deputy secretary general of the ANC said.
In a press release, Botswana’s Ministry of International Affairs & Cooperation summoned the US Ambassador to Botswana to express its displeasure at the alleged utterances made by the Trump.
The Botswana Government has also enquired from the US Government through the Ambassador, to clarify if Botswana is regarded as a “shithole” country given that there are Botswana nationals residing in the US.
Following the publication of the media reports, the White House issued a statement but did not directly challenge the authenticity of the comments.
“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but president Trump will always fight for the American people,” White House said.
Trump denied what has been interpreted as racist remarks through his favourite medium, Twitter by saying the language he used ‘was tough, but this was not the language used.’ He also called for a ‘merit- based system of immigration and people who take our country to the next level.”
The straight-from-the-hip shooting president continues to have more foot in the mouth moments.