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The latest furor is over certain remarks that Trump is alleged to have uttered during a meeting about immigration with Dick Durbin, Lindsay Graham, and “other government officials.” His alleged remarks (some of which he has disputed) were criticized variously for both form and content: that the words were vulgar, and that they were bigoted.
The most salient thing on which accounts seem to agree is that Trump referred to some countries—perhaps in Africa, perhaps also Haiti—as “shitholes” or “shithole countries.” Let’s go with that, anyway, as a good possibility.
Definition - Word
The definition of the word “shithole” is:
An extremely dirty, shabby, or otherwise unpleasant place.
Problem - Word - Definition - Fact - Countries
So the problem doesn’t seem to be the word’s definition; these are in fact pretty desperate countries in which to live, which is one of the main reasons so many people flee them in the first place. That’s what Trump was referring to in his later tweet where he wrote, “Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country.”
So the objection to the word is mostly about decorum and tone. What Trump said wasn’t couched in the sort of language presidents and diplomats ordinarily use in public, although it’s a good guess (and with some, a certainty—for example, LBJ) that they sometimes do in private.
Issue - Difficulty - Lack - Transcript - Trump
But tone—vulgarity—was not the only issue here. And this is where we get into special difficulty because of the lack of a transcript or recording: what did Trump actually say and what did he actually mean?
It appears that the context in which Trump is alleged to have said this was a discussion of a program that favors immigrants from these countries:
Program - White - House - Temporary - Status
The program that was being discussed at the White House is called Temporary Protected Status.
In November, the Trump administration decided to end the status for immigrants from Haiti and Nicaragua. It gave the approximately 59,000...
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