An American reader has noted that, in my recent piece on the rising propensity to take offence, I omitted to mention President Trump’s alleged reference to Haiti and some African countries as ‘shit-holes’. I presume the reader wishes to know whether I found Trump’s language offensive.
I can answer him plainly. I did not find the scatological terminology offensive, merely crude and inappropriate, the more so in a public utterance by the leader of the free world, and evidence of an under-developed vocabulary – and perhaps of an under-developed brain.
If anything caused offence it was not the language but the underlying message. This revealed something of Trump’s character that many of us had long suspected. What he suggested – no, stated – in his reported ‘shit-hole’ remarks – uttered in the company of a group of senators, some of whom claim not to have heard them – was that America would rather welcome immigrants from Norway than from Haiti or certain other African countries. Why Norway? Probably because the prime minister of that country had just been on a state visit.
Whatever the reason, Norway is by no measure of the term a shit-hole, as Mr. Trump well knew. In fact, it boasts one of the highest living standards in the western world, and is often held up as the very perfect model of modern democracy. As it happens, the majority of its indigenous citizens are white, and also, in the popular conception of the Nordic races, rather blond and often blue-eyed.
So, what Trump is saying is that wealthy white immigrants from a model community, and with not the slightest incentive to leave it anyway, would be preferable to poor black immigrants with every incentive imaginable. Or did it just come out that way, and what he really meant to say was something quite different. If so, what? The answer is sufficiently obvious to remain unstated.
Many Norwegians, I might add, perhaps just as needlessly, are of Aryan stock. (Many migrated to America at the end of the nineteenth century, as a glance at telephone directories in the northern mid-western states used to reveal.) Indeed, many appear to be even more Aryan in appearance than most Aryans. I mention this because some of America’s older citizens, especially those of Jewish origin, may recall with an involuntary shiver the last time there was talk of the merits of being an Aryan and of ‘cleansing’ the population of those who had the temerity to be born something else.
The original Arians, by the way, were an Indo-Persian people who lived, before their westward Diaspora, in the land that is now called Iran. Consider that, for a moment, Mr. Trump, while munching on your hamburger in front of the television.
And as a supposedly proud American, you should, the next time you find yourself in your home town, take the ferry to Liberty Island, and re-read the motto at the base of the statue there: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”
Enough said, I think.
Explanation understood and accepted. Often crude and usually inappropriate. However that, as opposed to the business as usual from Washington DC, is what was voted for and elected by the American voter the past November. He drives even those who voted for him to distraction as he says something totally unnecessary that takes away from an otherwise clear message. His policies and not his language are working and providing what he said he was going to do. Jobs, economic growth, not to mention the Dow, are on the rise. If only he had a modicum of cooperation then perhaps he would not feel the need to make silly commentary.
We will have to agree to disagree that Trump’s policies are working. One tax bill that mainly helps a wealthy minority and inflates the budget deficit isn’t much to show for a year in office. Yes, the stock market is soaring (I keep waiting in dread for the overdue the correction) but then it would, given the huge tax break for corporations. Tax giveaways apart, Trump has not transformed the economy in a year. No president could, given leads and lags. Let me concede the point that Trump’s economic policies might work – we won’t know for a year or two – that still does not excuse his puerile tweets, offensive language and potentially dangerous rants against foreign leaders even if in some cases they are not far off the mark).
I agree with Jim Keck