Comments made behind closed doors in the Oval Office by President Donald Trump have reverberated throughout the world, leaving American officials scrambling to contain the damage.
Mr Trump was reported Thursday as having called Haiti and African nations “s***hole countries” during a meeting with Congressional leadership as they discussed proposals for an immigration policy overhaul.
The specific comments — which Mr Trump later denied specifically, though, perhaps not in tone — have led America’s diplomatic efforts to engage in damage control, while foreign nations and critics have heaped on criticism.
“The US deeply respects the people of #Africa & values partnerships w/ them. There has been no change in our dedication to partners & friends across the Continent,” the US embassy in South Africa tweeted following the reports. “We remain committed to working together to realise the promise of a more prosperous 21st century Africa.”
The US State Department’s office of African Affairs tweeted similar sentiments.
“The United States will continue to robustly, enthusiastically and forcefully engage in #Africa, promoting this vital relationship, and to listen and build on the trust and views we share with our African partners,” the office tweeted.
In Haiiti, the top US official there was reportedly summoned to meet with Haiti’s president to explain the President’s remarks. That official, Robin Diallo, is planning on reiterating America’s strong relationship with Haiti, and on listening to the Haitian leader’s concerns, according to an US official.
And, while the American media has been hesitant to call Mr Trump’s actions and comments in the White House “racist”, others had no problem with doing so following the recently alleged comments. US diplomats may have been scrambling to right the ship, but the criticisms were coming in like a tidal wave.
“There is no other word one can use but ‘racist’… This isn’t just a story about vulgar language, it’s about opening the door to humanity’s worst side, about validating and encouraging racism and xenophobia,” Rupert Colville, the spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said. “You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ’s***holes’, whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”
The African Union also joined in to note the overtly racist tones.
“Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United…