Although there have been contradictory accounts about the exact phrasing of the comments made during a bipartisan meeting by President Trump, none of the attendees disputed that Trump expressed a strong preference for immigrants from Norway over Haiti, El Salvador or African nations.
Not speaking out against Trump’s sentiments and language puts us at risk of normalizing his insolent behavior and making it okay for others to be racially insensitive.
But let’s look at Trump’s question: Why would we want people from these countries to immigrate here?
Haiti is a country still recovering from the tragedy of the 2010 earthquake. The clear reason Haitians immigrate to the U.S is to escape problems that have resulted from the natural disaster, constricting their opportunities.
America is the land of opportunity — this mantra was originated from a history of immigrants who were hungry to work and change their circumstances. Trump’s insinuation that immigrants from Norway, a majority white country, would be better additions to our country is insulting and indicative of a racist ideology.
Trump’s comments say that countries like Haiti or those located in Africa produce subpar immigrants. It’s insulting and undermines immigrants like myself. Trinidad and Tobago would, no doubt, be referred to as a “shithole country” because of its impoverished economic status. I have seen my family persevere and work hard to give back to America.
Neither my family and I nor any other immigrants from “shithole countries” are defined by where we came from, but by who we are. I refuse to be considered subpar or not good enough for America.
Trump’s sentiments desensitize the public to racism and foster hate amongst Americans. Students like myself who find themselves in culturally ostracized groups suffer under this attitude.
Americans quickly saw the implications of Trump’s comments, but some politicians failed to even acknowledge the problem of his view. About 6 out of 10 Americans believe that Trump’s comments were racist, yet politicians like Rep. Rodney Davis took the moment to talk about bipartisanship rather than speak out on Trump’s comment.
“The rhetoric coming from leaders in both parties does nothing to advance the kind of reforms that are best for America,” Davis said.
The failure to speak up about the effects his words may have on immigrants only lowers the bar for what is acceptable to say as the president of the free world. The president should act as a marker of proper behavior, as they may become acceptable in the mainstream media.
President Trump’s tendency to make ignorant, disparaging comments, which are that offensive to an array of Americans. America is better than this rhetoric, and politicians who aid in the growth of America should serve as voices of reason.
McLean is an English junior from Houston.