Back in January, Donald Trump reportedly referred to African nations, along with Haiti and El Salvador, as ‘shithole countries.’ Now it looks like this particular dog whistle has caught on, as a spokesperson for Corey Stewart, who Trump has endorsed as a candidate to represent Virginia in the U.S. Senate, has used it to refer to cities with majority-black populations.
Rick Shaftan, a spokesperson for Stewart’s campaign, continues to defend the tweets, even declaring that he has probably said worse. At this time, Corey Stewart has not publicly commented on the tweets.
According to Daily Beast, Shaftan has been connected with some rather controversial campaigns already — he worked for the campaign of Roy Moore, who was accused of sexual assault and impropriety with underage girls, and for Paul Nehlen, who became known for anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic social media posts, before being banned from Twitter over his hate-filled tweets.
Shaftan was among the first to defend Trump’s “shithole countries” comment after an aide, who was in a meeting in the Oval Office, told media outlets the President had called Haiti and African nations ‘shitholes’ and suggested the U.S. should avoid allowing immigrants from these countries, and should take immigrants from Norway instead.
Later in the same month, Shaftan tweeted an article describing the replacement of a Confederate memorial in Baltimore with a statue of Harriet Tubman, the heroic woman who escaped slavery and risked her life to save many more. This, apparently, qualified the city as another ‘shithole,’ by Shaftan’s estimate.
Addressing the negative feedback on his Facebook page Sunday night, Corey Stewart’s spokesman laughed it off, saying that categorizing cities with significant populations of POC and minorities is probably not the worst he’s said.
I must have said something worse than that in all these years! They need to look harder.
Well, we won’t try to actually rank them, but it’s true these are far from the only racist things Shaftan has said on Twitter alone. Others include:
- Calling Kwanzaa a “fake holiday invented by black racists.”
- Claiming POC didn’t mind Confederate statues of flags until they were told what to think by white people.
- Suggesting landlords could avoid renting to black tenants by posting signs forbidding Clinton voters.
- Calling the decision by Harvard students to organize a special commencement celebrating African American graduates proof of ‘anti-white hate‘ (Snopes corrected the false claim that graduation was ‘segregated’ and that white students were not permitted to join the additional ceremony. Snopes noted that there are multiple student-organized commencement ceremonies for various groups.)
One that does particularly stand out is the exhortation to avoid opening a business in neighborhoods with majority POC populations.
Following the controversy as people became aware of the Twitter background of the person publicly representing Corey Stewart’s campaign against Tim Kaine, Rick Shaftan tweeted to declare that Trump supporters are unfairly labeled racists, Nazis, and white supremacists merely for their votes, or for support of the sitting President of the United States. However, he neglected to address that complaints against him, at least, are being specifically lodged for his own words and actions — not merely his vote.