“Shithole countries”

Trump said an awful thing. Although he denies it, several sources have confirmed that, in a closed-door meeting about immigration policy, he asked, “Why do we want all these people from ‘shithole countries’ coming here?” People went nuts, with good reason, but I think the focus has been wrong. This is cross-posted from my FaceBook, word for word (except this paragraph of introduction).

Folks: I think we’re focusing on the wrong thing. I’m sorry if others have said this already, I haven’t read as much news this morning (or yesterday) as I normally do. But here goes:

Trump used crude language. So what? I don’t know many of us who are really offended by crude language, and the ones I know who might be offended by a swear word here or there lean toward supporting Trump (or fully support him) anyway — apparently in spite of his crudeness, which they may believe is fake news anway. But I’m not that. I actually like salty language. I loved it when Biden got caught telling Obama that the ACA passage was a “big fucking deal.” Swear words have never bothered me, and likely never will.

I don’t care all that much that Trump called places shitholes, except that it’s probably bad for diplomacy, so I guess I care a little. But what bothers me the most is the worldview, not the words:

There are people living in places with lots of opportunities and people living in places with fewer or no opportunities. Trump is advocating bringing people here from places with lots of opportunities, so they can experience an equivalent or modestly better life that America has to offer. At the same time, he wants to limit immigration of people in places with few opportunities. So those who have other opportunities are welcome, and those who don’t should stay put. That’s backwards to me. Shouldn’t we be the most interested in helping those who would benefit from that help the most?

To be clear, it’s possible for me to see a nuanced argument for what he’s proposing. I don’t think anybody would have a problem agreeing that in poor nations (aka, “shithole countries”), like all nations, there is a range of people. There are skilled people, motivated people, unskilled people, unmotivated people. There are people who want a better life and will work for it, and there are people who don’t care, and won’t. If we open our doors to people from those countries, the ones most likely to come are those who are motivated, and we then deplete th

ose countries of the people who are most likely to help make the country less of a “shithole” than it is already.

I don’t agree with that argument, because I think the kid who might save the “shithole country” is more likely to do that by leaving that country, coming to a place with greater opportunities, learning about how to save a country and accumulating resources to do so, then going back to save the country. Nevertheless, it’s at least an argument that cares about the “shithole” country and has the intent of helping it.

Trump’s “America First” view of the world doesn’t care about helping that country, and doesn’t see the country as a “shithole” as much as it sees the people in that country as shit.

That’s the part that should make us all sad.

 

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