As expected, the United Nations, which had already exhausted reserves of patience with Donald Trump and his administration, were swift to rebuke his comments about Haiti, El Salavador, and various African nations being “shithole countries.”
The UN summoned US diplomats around the world for formal reprimand, amid worldwide shock that such crude remarks could ever be made in a semi-public meeting by an actual US President.
In a strongly-worded statement, the UN said it was impossible to describe his remarks as anything other than racist. The Vatican decried Trump’s words as “particularly harsh and offensive”.
The UN human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville, told a Geneva news briefing:
“There is no other word one can use but racist. You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’, whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”
Of course we must note that Donald Trump denies having used such vile language. But when the backlash began, there was no denial. If anything, there was a minor redirect. White House spokesperson Raj Shah was the first to address the matter. Mr. Shah said: “Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people. Like other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.”
That was quite telling in and of itself as we know that Trump doesn’t keep anyone on staff who’s unwilling to defend him, period. He also requires that his staffers will lie for him — no matter how petty, ridiculous, or outlandish — in order to defend the indefensible.
So the only way I can really read Mr. Shah’s initial statement here is that Team Trump didn’t think it was worth an elaborate denial (lie) when the story was first reported, but was forced to recalibrate once the heat was turned up.