The daughter of a Topeka surgeon celebrated her family’s South Sudanese heritage in a widely shared Facebook post critiquing comments President Donald Trump reportedly made about African countries.
Atima Lui, a Topeka native who now lives in New York City, posted a photo Sunday of her father, Nason Lui, holding a sign that read, “I am from a (expletive) hole country.”
Last week, news outlets — including The Washington Post and CNN — reported Trump had described Haiti and African countries with a vulgar word. Sources briefed on the meeting told the news organizations that Trump had grown frustrated during an Oval Office meeting about protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.
“Why are we having all these people from (expletive) countries come here?” Trump said, according to The Washington Post.
Reacting on social media, Atima said her father came to the United States from South Sudan as a refugee decades ago and has practiced general, vascular and trauma surgery in America for at least 40 years. Nason works as a general surgeon at Stormont Vail Health and graduated from Northwestern University Medical School in 1977. He previously worked at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
“He is cherished by his family, loved by his community, and a hero to many,” she wrote. “Most importantly, he is not an exception. This is my father, and he wants you to know that we are PROUDLY South Sudanese, and that #ImmigrantsMakeAmericaGreat.”
The post drew quick praise from many and was shared more than 1,850 times by Monday evening.
“Topeka and the USA are extraordinarily lucky to have your dad and your family as members,” said Sarah Bellows-Blakely in a comment on the post.
Nason and Atima didn’t respond to requests for interviews by Monday evening.
In the comment section, Atima said her father woke up angry about the president’s comments Sunday morning and asked her mother to take the photo.
On Monday, Trump tweeted that Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, who was the only Democrat in the Thursday White House meeting, had jeopardized legislation to protect immigrants who came to the United States under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which is set to expire in March. Durbin confirmed reports Trump made vulgar statements, calling them “vile, hate-filled and clearly racial in their content.”
“Senator Dicky Durbin totally misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting,” Trump said on Twitter. “Deals can’t get made when there is no trust! Durbin blew DACA and is hurting our Military.”
Senator Dicky Durbin totally misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting. Deals can’t get made when there is no trust! Durbin blew DACA and is hurting our Military.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2018
During the White House meeting, Trump suggested the United States should attract more people from countries like Norway, according to reports.
“Why do we need more Haitians?” the Post quoted the president. “Take them out.”
Topekan Max Manning, founder of Global Missions Ministries, has been traveling to Haiti for 55 years. On Monday, he was on his way back to Topeka from Haiti. During a layover in Atlanta, he said he thought Trump’s alleged comments were “repulsive” and “regrettable.”
“I would expect more out of him,” Manning said.
Haiti has endured a lot of suffering and devastation, Manning said. An earthquake in 2010 left 200,000 people dead, and Hurricane Matthew wreaked havoc on the island nation in 2016. Still, the people are “upbeat and looking with joy towards the future,” Manning said.
Originally, Republican Senators Tom Cotton, of Arkansas, and David Perdue, of Georgia, who attended the meeting, said they couldn’t recall whether Trump said anything vulgar. On Sunday, the pair denied the president used vulgar words. Perdue suggested Durbin was untrustworthy.
“This is a gross misrepresentation,” Perdue said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “It’s not the first time Senator Durbin has done it, and it is not productive to solving the problem we’re having.”
Trump on Sunday also told reporters gathered at Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach, Fla., he was “not a racist.”
“I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you,” Trump said in an Associated Press report.