Phew. I had more to say on this yesterday but it was enough work (materially and immaterially) just to recount a factual account of what happened.
Now to discuss the substance of what happened, as in what this actually means or suggests or indicates.
Watching the Faux-News network and other right-wing media brush this off or cover for Trump was disgusting.
One WaPo headline seemed to sum up the difference in views. Trump's vulgarity: Overt racism or a president who says what many think?
Um, is there is a dichotomy there representing opposites? It can't be both?
And the right-wing media saying this is how people really talk, like bar-flies. Um, you are comparing a powerless drunk person slurring racist rantings at a bar (who probably everyone is trying to avoid) to the most powerful person on the planet who can affect policy and direct his considerable institutional power and his vast employees towards the ends that he wants? Maybe they are trying to convince liberals that small government is really what liberals should want? This wasn't being said in a bar by a drunk. This was being said by the U.S. President as he tried to discuss and brainstorm and negotiate about immigration policy. Context people!
People might say, this are just words. This words reveal a world-view that is influence, affecting, and changing, policy. They are NOT JUST WORDS. Maybe a democratically elected President and Prime Minister's words, inside a institutional system of checks and balances, aren't as impactful or powerful as say a Monarch's or Autocrat's words, but they are still very powerful. Besides affecting the discourse and culture they also have the very real ability to effect real policy changes, for better or worse, impacting real people's lives. If words don't mean anything I guess the constitution, which is just words, doesn't mean anything either.
Trump basically said he doesn't (and by extension, as the holding the highest position representing America, that America doesn't) want people from shithole countries. He is demeaning and impugning them as worthless, or worth less. What other meaning can one derive from his words? Any other interpretation is obfuscation.
Even if you try to say, well, we just want merit-based immigration, and people from this shithole countries are, on average, as a whole, less educated and will contribute less to the economy in both skills and assets if the U.S. lets them in…. You are tying someones net worth and skill set to their level of human dignity or worthiness. Whether one is implying lack of human dignity or worthiness leads to poverty, or poverty degrades a human's dignity or worthiness, both are disgusting points of view. Surely there has to be a way to discuss immigration reform without disrespecting and impugning people from "shithole" countries….
Also, the term "shithole" countries leaves out a lot of nuance, context, and history. Leaving aside that calling a country a "shithole" is a shitholey thing to do, implying there is nothing beautiful about the country, the institutions, the cultures/languages, the people, etc….. Leaving that aside. Lets assume "shithole countries" refers to countries that have lots of corruption (with or without a democracy), are unstable, have extreme poverty, could have famine, are riddled with conflict and violence, and/or destroyed by one/multiple natural disaster(s) they can't adequately address with their resources.
If you want to criticize the "shithole" countries with the above dsyfunctions, criticize the people who perpetuate those dysfunctions, the corrupt politicians, the exploitive businesspersons, or the persons who foment violence. Now the whole dang country. Though, be advised those politicians and businesspersons may find such caustic criticism not to their liking, and be more difficult to work with going forward.
Note, many of these former colonies (which most of these countries are), were exploited by European powers and the U.S.A., even messed or interfered with (look at Haiti's history for a prime example…). European countries could probably all have been described as "shithole" countries at one point or another in-time. The potato-famine in Ireland. But European powers partly grew their economy off of exploiting their colonies for human capital and/or resources. If by "shithole" one also means a land or country that has an subsistence-based economy maybe one would feel comfortable saying, well, all those colonies were shitholes to begin with…. I am not comfortable saying that, I think there is more to a nation and to a people than how close or far they are from a subsistence-based economy. And certainly some pre-colonial non-european economies were more developed than that. In any case I wouldn't call a nation with a subsistence-based economy a shithole country.
Also, some might argue Trump's father was from a "shithole" country (at the time), and his mother (from another country) came into the country on the so-called "chain immigration" having been sponsored by her sister who preceded her. Trump appears to forget his own heritage. Granted, doesn't mean immigration should be the same forever. And they were both from the European countries Trump so desires.
I like that some journalist have fully called out Trump, and not said that it was "racial/racially tinged/racially charged. They are just out saying it, either outright saying Trump is racist, or at least that what he said is racist. Full stop.
Some might say that the media or the liberals are tearing down the honour and respect due the office of the President. Well, I agree, people shouldn't wantonly
impugn the President or the office of the President… But the President has to respect the office of the President. I am not saying we should or are following his awful lead. In discourse and everything else. But if we don't call him out on his deplorable behaviour we are consenting for it to continue. The President has given people plenty of reasons to impugn him personally, and the work that he is doing or attempting to do*. And in a democracy it is our right, some would say our duty, to do so, and hold him to account.
(*Or work he is not doing or attempting! "Executive time").
P.S. my apologies if anyone was offended by all the cursing. But boy does the President saying what he said makes me want to swear and every sh*thole I wrote felt like therapy. It may not speak well of me
Funny I think this post is the first time I have nonchalantly referred to Trump as the President. It is not because I believe that he deserves the honours of the title. I guess I just feel that the word doesn't have any meaning (outside of institutional power) if this is what we are seeing and hearing and reading on a daily basis. The title has lost all honour and respect to me I think. Saying "the President" now feels like a saying joke, or an oxymoron as long as he holds the title. That is unfortunate, but I guess it is a reflection of how my feelings have evolved in our current environment. Feel free to imagine that when I refer to "the [U.S.] President" that there is a wry ironic undertone every time, as long as the Trump holds the title.
Edited by sierraleone, 13 January 2018 - 03:10 PM.