TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. — Tompkins County has joined the international anger, condemning President Donald Trump’s language used during a meeting Thursday, in which he reportedly called African nations “shithole countries.”
According to news reports, during a meeting with lawmakers, Trump dismissed Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as “shithole countries.” The meeting Thursday at the White House was to discuss an immigration deal. During the discussion, people attending have told reports, Trump asked “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump also suggested that the U.S. should bring more people from countries like Norway, reports say.
The comments have sparked outrage, and not just in the countries he referenced. Rupert Colville, human rights spokesman for the United Nations said there is no other word to use but “racist,” according to the New York Times.
Tompkins County Legislature Chair Martha Robertson issued a statement Friday on behalf of Tompkins County government. She writes, “I want to express in the strongest possible terms our outrage at President Donald Trump’s racist statements yesterday toward the Haitian people and all of Africa.”
It was important to issue a statement from the level of local government, Robertson said in an interview, because it is consistent with the county’s zero tolerance policy for this kind of speech.
“Frankly, I think we have to stop enabling this,” Robertson said. “If we don’t speak, it will just pass by us — oh look another boundary he crosses. Another norm he violated. No.” She added that she does not see this as a partisan issue.
Robertson said President Trump has “moved the goal posts” of what is acceptable.
“You can’t have a red alarm level of outrage every single day, and we have habituated to this,” Robertson said. “We have to stop habituating. We have to be outraged and we have to say so.”
Robertson’s statement in full:
On behalf of Tompkins County government, I want to express in the strongest possible terms our outrage at President Donald Trump’s racist statements yesterday toward the Haitian people and all of Africa.
Tompkins County’s Diversity Statement calls for “Zero tolerance for expressions of discrimination, bias, harassment, or negative stereotyping toward any person or group”. We do not tolerate such behavior or speech among our employees and we will not tolerate it in our President.
This is not normal. It is not acceptable. It is un-American. It is our responsibility to speak out in opposition.
Tragically, this is hardly the President’s first attack on people of color. However, this represents an escalation of his willingness to be vulgar and aggressive, and public about his racism. It is dangerous. Such language gives permission and support to racist elements in the country who, we are afraid, will escalate the ongoing violence against communities of color, now with even more support from the nation’s highest office.
We celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this weekend – a life of courage, integrity, and dedication that has been a model for us all. With the inspiration of Dr. King, let us come together in solidarity to reject racism in all its forms and expressions, including by President Donald Trump. Let us come together to affirm the humanity, dignity, and human rights of ALL people, and our profound commitment to justice and respect for all.