This James Baldwin Quote Nails The Scariest Thing About Donald Trump's Presidency

After Donald Trump allegedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and Africa as "sh*thole countries" in a meeting with legislators on both sides of the aisle, CNN newscaster Anderson Cooper quoted James Baldwin to talk about Trump's racism in his Anderson Cooper 360 broadcast on Thursday night. Cooper quoted Baldwin's 1972 nonfiction title, No Name in the Street, saying: "It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have."

In a meeting discussing protections for immigrants to the U.S., specifically with regard to the visa lottery system, Trump allegedly asked the bipartisan group of senators and congressional representatives, "Why are we having all these people from sh*thole countries come here?" He later went on to express his desire to "bring more people from countries such as Norway" to the U.S., according to The Washington Post, who broke the story. Trump denied the report on Friday morning, but Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) quickly hit back, telling reporters that Trump "said these hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly."

This is hardly the first time that Donald Trump has been accused of making sweeping, racist judgments against people of color. Early in his campaign, the New York City real estate tycoon claimed that Mexicans were "bringing drugs" to the U.S., and characterized Mexican immigrants as "rapists." During its first year in the White House, the Trump administration made several attempts to block immigration by individuals from Muslim-majority countries in which the 45th POTUS does not do business. The New York Times reported in December that Trump said Haitians "all have AIDS" and Nigerians live in "huts." The U.S. recently ended protections for Salvadoran immigrants, putting 200,000 at risk of deportation.

Condemning Trump's comment during Thursday night's Anderson Cooper 360, Cooper quoted from a longer passage found in Baldwin's No Name in the Street. That passage reads:

Well, if one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class. One goes to the unprotected — those, precisely, who need the law's protection most! — and listens to their testimony. Ask any Mexican, any Puerto Rican, any black man, any poor person — ask the wretched how they fare in the halls of justice, and then you will know, not whether or not the country is just, but whether or not it has any love for justice, or any concept of it. It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.

No Name in the Street by James Baldwin, $12.24, Amazon

Cooper went on to remind his audience that Trump's comments were "[n]ot racial. Not racially charged. Racist . . . The sentiment the President expressed today is a racist sentiment." It isn't the first, and it certainly won't be the last, but it's important to continue calling this administration out for its bigoted statements and policies.