The president of the United States is a racist.
Not racially insensitive, you understand. Not a populist demagogue cozying up to his white, working-class base.
We’re talking straight-up, go-back-to-where-you-came-from bigotry, the kind that emboldened Southern segregationists to barricade college classrooms and train firehoses on civil rights demonstrators more than half a century ago.
Except that this is 2018, and the guy making like your drunk uncle in high dudgeon is the leader of the free world.
No one who has paid even casual attention to Donald Trump could claim real surprise when he reportedly told a bipartisan congressional delegation that he was tired of immigrants from “shithole countries” such as Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations and yearned for more from countries like Norway.
So much for any doubt about what this president means when he talks about merit-based immigration.
Trump could not have been clearer about who is welcome in his America and who is not.
In a tweet Friday morning, Trump offered a shallow denial, saying he used “tough” language. But there’s no denying that the words multiple news organizations reported Trump said are consistent with comments he has made about race during his campaign and his presidency.
It’s noteworthy that these comments came one day before the eighth anniversary of the devastating Haiti earthquake that led the U.S. to offer protected status to nearly 60,000 Haitians, and the week before the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day Trump will surely go through the motions to honor.
But no matter what he says on Monday, we’ll know how he really feels. We’ve seen him speak from the heart before:
In June 2015 when he called Mexican immigrants rapists.
In December of that year, when he called for a travel ban barring all Muslim travelers from the U.S.
And in August 2017, when he recognized “very fine people,” among the white supremacists who incited chaos and violence in Charlottesville.
Republicans of conscience will call Trump’s most recent comments appalling and ignorant. Repugnant and vile. Hateful and disturbing.
But what comes next? Experience suggests the party’s censure will be fleeting, and its reconciliation with its racist leader swift.
But the immigrants whose lives and children’s lives hang in the balance will not forget. And neither should voters, who will soon have the opportunity to hold apologists accountable for the president’s unvarnished bigotry.