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The Ranging Responses to Trump’s Now Infamous “S–hole” Comment

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While many condemn President Trump’s alleged use of such vulgar language, some question the validity of said reports. Others agree with the President’s sentiment.

As you have likely heard by now, the President is at the forefront of headlines for allegedly describing a slew of countries as “s–holes.” These countries apparently include Haiti, El Salvador, and certain African nations. Furthermore, President Trump stated that the U.S. should be taking in more people from Norway. This happens in the context of the eight-year anniversary of Haiti’s devastating earthquake that affected millions and has had long-lasting effects on Haiti’s financial and environmental well-being. 

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Trump’s words have stirred up controversy, warranting strong responses from each point on the political spectrum. While many condemn President Trump’s alleged use of such vulgar language, some question the validity of said reports. Others agree with Mr. Trump’s sentiment.

From the left, Mr. Trump has received an outpouring of criticism for his words. Representative Jim McGovern (D-Ma.) referred to Mr. Trump as a “racist” and implied that he should be impeached, tweeting: “America’s president is a racist and this is the proof. His hateful rhetoric has no place in the @WhiteHouse. Every single Republican must denounce these comments now.”

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Ca.) also called Mr. Trump out for what she perceived to be a predictable statement, given his past actions, tweeting: “@realDonaldTrump — You would never call a predominantly white country a ‘s–hole’ because you are unable to see people of color, American or otherwise, as equals.”

Texas Rep. Al Green delivered a similarly severe response, tweeting that he will, in a second attempt, make an appeal for Mr. Trump’s impeachment. The full tweet reads:

Late night host Conan O’Brien took a more comedic approach to the situation: “I have no idea what the president has against the people of Haiti, but if the president doesn’t like them, they must be lovely people.” 

Regardless of the different tones and platforms used to convey these responses, the strong feelings from Democrats opposing Mr. Trump’s language are clear. 

With that said, CNN Anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent, Jake Tapper, took a more critical approach to addressing the situation. He created a chain of tweets clarifying what he believes may have actually been said by Trump, while still expressing his disapproval of President Trump’s words regardless. In one of his tweets, he writes, “The president did not refer to Haiti as a “s–hole” country according to the source familiar with the meeting… though he DID say it about countries in Africa… What happened, [my source familiar with the meeting] says, is there was a conflation of two different remarks by the president.”

While he explicitly states in his initial tweet that Trump’s language was unacceptable no matter which specific countries he was referring to, he also does something that many critics did not: questioned the alleged report.

From high-profile political figures on the right, there are three popular responses to President Trump’s alleged words: those condemning both his language and sentiment, those supporting the sentiment while disagreeing with the language, and those indicating no problem with either.

Among the numerous Republican politicians who have openly denounced President Trump’s language and sentiment are Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, Rep. Mia Love of Utah, Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma. Mr. Curbelo asks in his tweet, “What the hell is wrong with the people leading this country?”

On the other hand, Robert Jeffress, a Texas evangelical church pastor, agreed with Trump’s sentiment. He released the following statement in which he distinctly acknowledged his disagreement with Trump’s alleged word choice, but he upheld the notion that the U.S. should not permit people from Haiti to immigrate to the country, with a justification rooted in his interpretation of Christianity.

Additionally, GOP Florida congressman Matt Gaetz added some fuel to the fire by firmly supporting President Trump’s sentiment and using some harsh language of his own. He defended Trump’s language by stating that he believes President Trump’s privacy was violated when his words were publicized: “[Haiti’s conditions] are disgusting. I mean, it’s everywhere you look in Haiti—it’s sheet metal and garbage when I was there.” However, Gaetz did clarify that he would not have used the terms President Trump did.

Contrary to the responses noted so far, Jesse Watters, a conservative political commentator on Fox News, defended Trump’s language. Watters believes that one way in which Trump relates to many Americans is through his use of unfiltered language, stating that “this is how the forgotten men and women in America talk at the bar.” He continues: “This is how Trump relates to people. If you’re at a bar, and you’re from Wisconsin, and you’re thinking, ‘They’re bringing in a bunch of Haiti people, or El Salvadorians, or people from Niger.’ This is how some people talk.”

In the midst of this drama, Trump has denied using any of the alleged language, insisting via Twitter: “I never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said ‘take them out.’ Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!”