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The problem with Trump’s “s—hole” remark isn’t the profanity.

Mark Wilson/Getty

On Thursday, in a meeting with Senate leaders, the president reportedly questioned why the United States should offer immigration protections to people coming from “shithole” countries, including Haiti and unnamed African nations, instead of people coming from Norway. “Why do we want people from Haiti here?” he reportedly said. Last month, Trump also claimed that all Haitian immigrants have AIDS and argued that we shouldn’t let people from Nigeria into the country because they would “never go back to their huts” after experiencing the wonders of America. On Friday morning, Trump denied using the word “shithole”:

The issue here is not the president’s use of profanity, however. His comments contradict the White House’s insistence that what it is advocating is a merit-based immigration system. After all, Norway is a nationality, not a job or a skill. The president’s comments reveal that the immigration policies he’s advocating are, at root, racist.

Typically, the president’s staff believe this racism will resonate with his base.