Saturday, July 21, 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: NFL calls wise time-out on disciplining protests

The National Football League kept an embarrassing situation from becoming even worse by shelving its new policy clamping down on players who refuse to stand for the national anthem.The league announced late Thursday it would suspend the 2-month old p...
Published: 07/20/18
Editorial: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s responsible budget

Editorial: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s responsible budget

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is shoring up his final year in office with the proposed city budget he released Thursday. The plan includes no big-ticket items, opting instead to maintain ongoing investments in parks, roads and other basic public services....
Published: 07/19/18
Updated: 07/20/18

IRS making ‘dark money’ darker

Under a perverse interpretation of federal law, tax-exempt nonprofit organizations supposedly devoted to "social welfare" can spend large amounts of money to influence elections without publicly disclosing the identities of their donors. But instead ...
Published: 07/19/18
Updated: 07/20/18
Editorial: Ferry is fun but should pay for itself in long run

Editorial: Ferry is fun but should pay for itself in long run

The CrossBay Ferry appears headed for another round of rides across Tampa Bay, with local governments pledging one more year of financial support. But as more taxpayer money is steered into this project, it’s important to recognize what purpose the f...
Published: 07/18/18
Updated: 07/20/18
Editorial: Scott should order investigation of concealed weapons permitting

Editorial: Scott should order investigation of concealed weapons permitting

To his credit, Gov. Rick Scott says he is considering requests to order an independent investigation of how Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s office screens applications for concealed weapon permits. It’s a reasonable request, and the governor h...
Published: 07/18/18
Editorial: Algae blooms, toll woes and beach battles -- Florida’s fouled up summer

Editorial: Algae blooms, toll woes and beach battles -- Florida’s fouled up summer

July in Florida. The height of summer tourist season. Rental cars clog the highways and tourists crowd the beaches, motels and all-you-can-eat shrimp joints. Many of our neighbors are off to North Carolina or somewhere cooler. So it’s an awfully inco...
Published: 07/17/18
Updated: 07/20/18
Editorial: Sacrificing two kayaks and a Toyota for free speech

Editorial: Sacrificing two kayaks and a Toyota for free speech

Maggy Hurchalla joked this spring that all she could offer a billionaire who won a $4.4 million judgment against her after she exercised her free speech rights were "two kayaks and an aging Toyota.’’ The billionaire didn’t laugh. This week, Martin Co...
Published: 07/17/18
Updated: 07/18/18
Editorial: Trump sides with Putin over America

Editorial: Trump sides with Putin over America

In one of the most surreal news conferences of our time, President Donald Trump actually stood next to Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday and called the federal investigation into Russia’s meddling into the 2016 election "a disaster for our coun...
Published: 07/16/18
Editorial: A vote for preserving waterfront parks by St. Petersburg City Council

Editorial: A vote for preserving waterfront parks by St. Petersburg City Council

The St. Petersburg City Council made the appropriate but difficult decision to reject a contract with renowned artist Janet Echelman for one of her aerial sculptures. It would be wonderful for the city to have one of her signature works, but Spa Beac...
Published: 07/13/18

‘Everybody needed to know what happened’

The brutal murder of Emmett Till, a black Chicago youth, in Mississippi nearly 63 years ago went unpunished, but not forgotten. A decision by his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, to allow an open casket at Emmett’s Chicago funeral represented an act of def...
Published: 07/13/18