Florida Republican congressman Matt Gaetz enthusiastically endorsed President Donald Trump’s racist criticism of Haiti—made during the now-infamous “shithole” immigration meeting last week—calling conditions in the country “deplorable”and “disgusting” during an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Tuesday night.
“If I called, and you’ll forgive me for using the language of the president, but if I called Okaloosa County a shithole, you’d understandably be upset with that, right?” Hayes asked Gaetz, referencing the congressman’s home county.
“Yes,” Gaetz answered. “I could also prove you wrong, because I could bring you to Okaloosa County and show you that it’s the home of the most beautiful beaches in America. I don’t know that in Haiti they can make the same claim.”
Gaetz is correct that Haiti cannot claim to have the most beautiful beaches in the United States of America.
When pressed about Trump’s remarks, however, Gaetz insisted on doubling down on the president’s sentiment, if not his exact phrasing.
“I would not pick those terms,” Gaetz explained with a smile. “But I would say the conditions in Haiti are deplorable, they are disgusting. I mean it’s everywhere you look in Haiti, it’s sheet metal and garbage when I was there.”
Besides the fact that he was making a grotesque and inaccurate smear of an entire country, Gaetz also failed to mention America’s centuries-long, direct role in creating the impoverished circumstances in Haiti that he went on national television to deride.
Visibly taken aback, Hayes graciously suggested to Gaetz that “people would find that kind of characterization of the place where people live and have pride and love of the place they’re from as derogatory.”