‘Better to have a few rats than to be one’
The Baltimore Sun responded on Saturday to President Donald Trump’s comments calling its hometown a “rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live” in a scathing editorial titled, “Better to have a few rats than to be one.”
Earlier Saturday, Trump went after Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., in a series of tweets for the veteran congressman’s criticisms of the administration’s treatment of migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump called Cummings a “brutal bully” and said the conditions in his legislative district, which includes much of Baltimore city, are “FAR WORSE and more dangerous” than the those on the southern border.
Misspelling the lawmaker’s name, Trump said, “Cumming District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place.”
“No human being would want to live there,” he added.
In its editorial, which ran in the paper’s Sunday print edition, the Sun responded to the president by calling him, “the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are ‘good people’ among murderous neo-Nazis.”
The Sun said Trump is “still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post. Or that he possesses a scintilla of integrity.
“Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one.”
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Cummings has been a fierce critic of Trump and, as the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is leading several investigations into the president and his administration. But the paper said Trump wasn’t only attacking Cummings because he “has been a thorn in the president’s side.”
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“He was returning to an old standby of attacking an African American lawmaker from a majority black district on the most emotional and bigoted of arguments,” the Sun’s editorial board said. “It was only surprising that there wasn’t room for a few classic phrases like ‘you people’ or ‘welfare queens’ or ‘crime-ridden ghettos’ or a suggestion that the congressman ‘go back’ to where he came from.”
Earlier this month, Trump sparked outrage when he told four Democratic congresswomen, all of them U.S. citizens who belong to ethnic minorities, to “go back” and fix their “crime infested” countries of origin before trying to legislate change in the U.S. His remarks were condemned as racist in a House resolution.
The Sun editorial said, “Trump sees attacking African American members of Congress as good politics, as it both warms the cockles of the white supremacists who love him and causes so many of the thoughtful people who don’t to scream.”
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, a Baltimore native, also denounced the president’s comments as racist in a tweet on Saturday.
Cummings “is a champion in the Congress and the country for civil rights and economic justice, a beloved leader in Baltimore, and deeply valued colleague. We all reject racist attacks against him and support his steadfast leadership,” she said.
Trump rejected the accusation of racism and said there was “nothing wrong with bringing out the very obvious fact that Congressman Elijah Cummings has done a very poor job for his district and the City of Baltimore.”
The Sun defended its city from Trump’s attacks, pointing out that Baltimore is home to “Johns Hopkins Hospital, perhaps the nation’s leading medical center,” the U.S. Social Security Administration, “where they write the checks that so many retired and disabled Americans depend upon,” as well as “the beauty of the Inner Harbor” and “the proud history of Fort McHenry.” It also pointed out that the district’s “median income is actually above the national average.”
The paper argued that the president “has far more power to effect change in this city, for good or ill, than any single member of Congress.
“If there are problems here, rodents included, they are as much his responsibility as anyone’s, perhaps more because he holds the most powerful office in the land.”