Friday, January 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values. It is reassuring that Florida Republicans such as Gov. Rick Scott, former Gov. Jeb Bush, members of Congress and state legislators directly denounced and rejected the president’s language. This is not a moment for anyone to remain silent.

Trump lashed out Thursday about a potential deal on immigration that includes protections for Haitians and for people from some African nations. During the discussion with members of Congress in the Cabinet Room, the Washington Post first reported, Trump asked, "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?’’ Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, who was in the meeting, reconfirmed Friday that Trump repeatedly "said things that were hate-filled, vile and racist.’’ News reports said Trump declared he would rather accept people from places like Norway than Africa. He also said Haiti should be left out of any immigration deal. "Why do we need more Haitians?’’ Trump asked, according to the Post. "Take them out.’’

It is instructive that the White House did not deny the initial news reports. Predictably, Trump turned to Twitter Friday to try to change the narrative. He acknowledged using some "tough’’ language but denied saying "anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country.’’ That is not the interpretation from those who were in the room or by the nation, and it smacks of revisionism.

The denunciations of the Republican president’s language by Florida Republicans are important, because they reinforce that respect for people of color is not a partisan issue. They reaffirm that hateful language is unacceptable from any president, regardless of political party. There can be sharp differences on immigration policy in Washington and in Tallahassee — the Florida House on Friday voted for foolish legislation that would punish so-called "sanctuary cities" and that Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has called "flat-out unlawful.’’ But there can be no disagreement among Republicans or Democrats that Trump’s language and the message it sends to the world cannot stand.

This is only the latest example of Trump’s bigoted comments and approaches to issues involving race or religion. As a candidate, he labeled immigrants from Mexico as criminals and rapists, and he called for a ban on all Muslims entering the country. As president, he criticized "both sides" after violence broke out following a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. After nearly a year in office, Trump remains unreconstructed and unfit for the job.

There is no reasonable rationalization for the president’s latest outburst. Haiti and the other countries involved in this discussion are generally poor, underdeveloped and plagued with challenges that make life difficult. But the suggestion Trump directed his wrath at these nations or their governments rather than their residents who are desperate to escape to a better life here is at odds with his record and with the message received by those in the room. He wasn’t comparing the economic output of African countries to Norway’s.

The president’s conflicting positions on immigration and his repulsive remarks place a heavier burden on members of Congress to negotiate their own deal and to stand against the president’s language. This remains a nation of immigrants whose strength is its diversity. The best disinfectant for racism is a bright spotlight and a united stand against it by all Americans.

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Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Published: 01/14/18
Updated: 01/16/18
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18