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Naturally, Trump won’t apologize for his ‘s---holes’ slur. So America is doing it for him

Naturally, Trump won’t apologize for his ‘s---holes’ slur. So America is doing it for him
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U.S. President Donald Trump, with Isaac Newton Farris Jr., the nephew of Martin Luther King Jr., before signing a proclamation honouring King at the White House on Friday. After the ceremony, Trump ignored a question from a reporter about whether he is a racist.  (AL DRAGO / NYT)  

Foreign Affairs Writer

Fri., Jan. 12, 2018

“Sorry” is a word never known to have passed from Donald Trump’s sad, overwhelmed, aggrieved, terminally unrepentant lips.

History may remember his as the Unhinged Presidency, bereft of core belief. But Trump, in his gut, knows the support of his fraying core constituency hinges on making no apologies, ever. And that goes double for the outside world. And triple, probably, for what he evidently regards as the “s---holes” therein.

Thus, Friday’s sickening irony: the president fleeing a signing ceremony honouring Martin Luther King Jr., of all people, ignoring shouted questions to which the answers now are plain.

“Mr. President, will you give an apology for the statement yesterday?” a reporter yelled. “Mr. President, are you a racist?”

In the world of fury over the slur he employed to describe immigrants and Haiti and Africa in a White House meeting on Thursday, Trump’s stated preference for people from Scandinavia — specifically, the blue-sky musing that America should welcome more immigrants from Norway — offered no solace.

Statistics Norway data shows Americans view Norway as : 895 people emigrated from the U.S. to Norway in 2016, while only 502 went the other way (leaving universal health care, gun control, a higher standard of living and longer life expectancy behind.)

From pretty much everywhere else, Trump on Friday found he’d finally built a wall — a wall of contempt for how his mind works. In one especially scathing missive, Botswana summoned the U.S. ambassador to find out if it too counted as an African “s---hole.”

Trump’s remarks, Botswana’s Ministry of International Affairs announced, were “highly irresponsible, reprehensible and racist.”

African Union spokesperson Ebba Kalondo emphasized how ugly such remarks stood against America’s role as a global example of the strength and diversity produced by migration. Kalondo put a fine point on the distinctly American subtext, saying: “Considering the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the U.S. during the Atlantic slave trade, this flies in the face of all accepted behaviour and practice.”

Trump’s allergy to the word sorry has a back-story of its own. Eight years ago, as the nativist wing of Tea Party movement began to metastasize, the prime source of fury was contempt for what it saw as Barack Obama’s “apology tour” of world capitals. Trump embraced the concept and took it beyond, ultimately inserting himself into the political map as birther-in-chief, planting doubt that Obama was even an American.

In his now infamous softball interview with Jimmy Fallon during his run for the presidency, Trump touted his infallibility as armour against apology.

“I fully think apologizing is a great thing, but you have to be wrong,” Trump explained. “I will absolutely apologize sometime in the distant future if I’m ever wrong.”

Trump is also making it harder for Canadians to legally immigrate to the U.S., lawyers say

Inevitably, there’s always a Toronto mayoral analog to Trump’s foot-in-mouth disease. But for once, the metaphorical road back from the White House to Nathan Phillips Square doesn’t stop at norm-busting, china-shattering Rob Ford.

This time, Trump’s slur awakens memories of the absurdly racist 2001 cannibal musings of Mel Lastman, who at the height of Toronto’s bid for the 2008 Olympic Games made global headlines in refusing a trip to a meeting in Kenya, saying: “I just see myself in a pot of boiling water with all these natives dancing around me.”

Lastman, at least, apologized, memorably uttering the word “sorry” not once but more than 20 times in a mea culpa press conference.

Trump never will. But in perhaps the most interesting development of the aftermath of “s---hole,” many Americans now appear motivated to do what their own president cannot — openly apologize to the world, on behalf of their country, if not their president.

Paul Altidor, Haiti’s Ambassador to Washington, in a statement calling Trump “either misinformed or miseducated,” said he was heartened that his embassy was being flooded with emails from Americans apologizing for Trump’s remark. Altidor later received an apology live on air from Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC News.

Among the GOP figures rushing into the vacuum of Trump’s silence was Sen. John McCain, who effectively denounced Trump as un-American. “Respect for the God-given dignity of every human being, no matter their race, ethnicity or other circumstances of their birth, is the essence of American patriotism. To believe otherwise is to oppose the very idea of America.”

And on social media — even on the hyperpartisan noisebox that is Twitter — regular, everyday Americans could be seen, offering messages the world. Some sought out humour to leaven the mood, others were distressfully sincere.

“Dear Humanity,” read one tweet , “We have a s---hole President. He does not speak for America. We are doing everything legally possible to rectify the situation. We apologize for any inconvenience. Love, America.”

“Hey world … I apologize for the racist idiot who is in the White House,” read yet another . “America doesn’t feel that way. And despite every evidence to the contrary, we really do love you and want to be part of a global community. I’m so sorry.”
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