New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has joined the many voices retaliating against US President Donald Trump’s discriminatory comments regarding Haiti, Africa and El Salvador.
While Ardern did not declare Trump racist outright, she said his remark was extremely inappropriate and hurtful. “There’s no other way to describe a response to that, other than hugely offensive,” she told Newshub’s AM Show. “That statement is offensive. How could you describe it in any other way?”
When questioned as to whether she thought Trump was racist, Ardern responded: “Some have described it that way.” The Prime Minister added that if Trump were to refer to New Zealand in such a manner the country would be “hugely offended”.
“It’s not just about the country – it’s a remark about the people of that country”, she said. “‘Why are we letting those people in?’ is his general remark there.” Ardern added: “You can certainly take pride in your nation, as New Zealanders do. We’re enormously proud of the country we are. But we don’t do that in such a way that that diminishes the value of another country.”
She also stated that Trump’s offensive behaviour would not damage New Zealand’s relationship with the United States. “America always goes beyond one person. I’m mindful of that.”
Ardern’s response comes after former US President Barack Obama issued a veiled warning to Trump. “One of the things that Michelle figured out, in some ways faster than I did, was part of your ability to lead the country doesn’t have to do with legislation, doesn’t have to do with regulations, it has to do with shaping attitudes, shaping culture, increasing awareness,” he told David Letterman.
Trump has since denied making the alleged statement, and even told reporters he is “not a racist”, BBC reports. “I’m the least racist person you’ve ever interviewed”, he added.