Wednesday, October 17, 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.

Comments
Editorial: Restart selection process for Florida Supreme Court justices

Editorial: Restart selection process for Florida Supreme Court justices

The Florida Supreme Court reached the right conclusion by ruling that the next governor has the authority to appoint three new justices to the court rather than departing Gov. Rick Scott. That is practical and reasonable, and it reflects the will of ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Editorial: Bilirakis mimics Trump, colleagues in misleading voters

Editorial: Bilirakis mimics Trump, colleagues in misleading voters

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis wants voters to believe he is different than his Republican colleagues in Congress and President Donald Trump. The Palm Harbor Republican says he pays more attention to local issues than to the president, claims he doesnȁ...
Published: 10/15/18
Updated: 10/16/18
Editorial: Answering questions about Hillsborough school tax

Editorial: Answering questions about Hillsborough school tax

The Hillsborough County school tax on the Nov. 6 ballot is a smart, necessary investment in the nation's eighth-largest school system. The 10-year, half-penny sales tax would create stronger, safer schools and a healthier learning environment for mor...
Published: 10/12/18
Updated: 10/16/18
Editorial: Tampa water project benefits entire region

Editorial: Tampa water project benefits entire region

A proposal that goes to the three-county utility Tampa Bay Water on Monday could benefit residents, the economy and the environment across the region. The utility's governing board will consider a proposal by the city of Tampa to redirect highly trea...
Published: 10/12/18
Updated: 10/15/18
Editorial: Rays’ purchase of Rowdies good for St. Petersburg

Editorial: Rays’ purchase of Rowdies good for St. Petersburg

The Tampa Bay Rays’ purchase of the Rowdies soccer team adds some stability to the region’s roster of professional sports franchises. It also guarantees that the Rowdies, who have amassed an enthusiastic fan base in a short time, will k...
Published: 10/12/18
Editorial: Remember Mexico Beach when next evacuation order comes

Editorial: Remember Mexico Beach when next evacuation order comes

When the sun rose Wednesday, Mexico Beach was a sleepy town of 1,200 people on Florida's northern Gulf coast. By sundown, it was gone. The pictures show the heartbreaking devastation left by Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle. Entire neighbor...
Published: 10/12/18
Shortsighted opposition to TECO

Shortsighted opposition to TECO

The destruction from Hurricane Michael is only the latest reminder of Florida's growing vulnerability to extreme weather, rising sea levels and other impacts of a warming climate. But the Sierra Club's opposition to Tampa Electric Co.'s plans to retr...
Published: 10/12/18
Times recommends: Chronister for Hillsborough sheriff

Times recommends: Chronister for Hillsborough sheriff

Florida sheriffs have long hand-plucked their successors from within the ranks. While he is a product of this tradition, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister is uniquely qualified to be elected on his own merits.Then-Sheriff David Gee surprise...
Published: 10/11/18
Updated: 10/12/18
Times recommends: Yes on Florida Supreme Court retention

Times recommends: Yes on Florida Supreme Court retention

One justice on the Florida Supreme Court faces a merit retention vote in November, essentially an up-or-down vote of confidence allowing him to remain on the bench. Merit retention votes occur at least one year after the justice’s initial appo...
Published: 10/11/18
Times recommends: Yes on retaining 4 appeals judges

Times recommends: Yes on retaining 4 appeals judges

The 2nd District Court of Appeal judges are on the Nov. 6 ballot for merit retention. Voters are being asked whether the appellate judges should be retained for another six-year term.Two pieces of information are helpful in deciding. First, the Flori...
Published: 10/11/18