MIAMI — Don’t get lost in the media buzz. Several friends have identified places in the US where they grew up as shitholes. The issue raised is not shithole or shithouse in describing countries or locations. Several come to mind. One issue is the concept of restricting opportunity as described in our Constitution. The other issue is the dishonesty that grew from the DACA meeting. Let’s summarize what’s been done or said.
Last Thursday morning, the president summoned Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin, thinking the immigration bill proposed by Graham, Durbin, Flake, Menendez, Bennet and Gardner would be signed. Reports say advisors told the president that his base could be upset so he extended the invitation to Sens. Cotton, Perdue, Goodlatte and McCarthy.
After the meeting, Durbin informed the media the president called certain countries shitholes, that the president did not want to cater to the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) requests to include African countries, with the president adding a willingness to bring people from Norway. Reports emerged that Graham voiced concerns over these racial undertones. Graham informed the media that he addressed his feelings with the president, supporting Durbin’s account.
Later that evening Cotton, Perdue and Kirstjen Nielsen (head of Homeland Security) said they could not recall the derogatory statements made by the president, however the White House did not deny making the statements. Three White House officials said Perdue and Cotton told them they heard “shit house” rather than “shit hole.” Jeff Flake, who was not at the meetings, said colleagues described the meeting where those words were used, even before they went public, corroborating earlier reports of terse language.
By Friday, the president tweeted, “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used.”
By the weekend, Perdue and Cotton denied the president’s comments on television; Cotton saying, “I did not hear derogatory comments about individuals or persons.”
In the past, issues of right or wrong were easy distinctions when kept simple; I argue that they still are because of our laws, religious beliefs, and family values when we do not distort the issues with political spin.
Laws are written to protect the rights of individuals in our free society and the American community. Each citizen or visitor is responsible for abiding by those laws and is also the beneficiary of the protections this same criminal and civil laws provide, giving everyone the opportunity to advance the American dream.
Some of the remarkable educators at our US schools, taught us to think about how we might respond when placed in gray, complex situations of conflict. We learned. The Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court deal with gray matters to make adjustments to American values.
- What do we call a person who kills another?
- What do we call persons found guilty of rape?
- What do we call a person who steals only once?
- What do we call persons that pilfer the dignity of others’ country of origin?
There seems to be more reluctance to answer the last question. Older Americans, as a whole, have yet to embrace the anti-discrimination laws fully; yet the coming is evident by most millennials.
We are all reluctant to admit that we are bigots because of our free will to choose from the options before us. We all discriminate in choices we make everyday. Some choices benefit us at the detriment of others. Some people may seek redemption; some do not.
Africa is predominantly black. Norway is predominantly white. Wherever immigrants come from, let them be honest people and allow them the opportunity to prosper. Wanting immigrants from Norway, while restricting immigration from African countries, leaves the perception of racism and bigotry at best or reveals a chosen direction toward an Aryan Nation.
America is a nation of immigrants. Let her be free.
Sam Martinez is a retired FBI special agent
and author of
Systemic Evil, Mat Perez vs the FBI