In Praise of Shitholes

President Trump has referred to African countries, Haiti and El Salvador as “shithole” nations and asked why the U.S. can’t have more immigrants from Norway. Probably because Norwegians don’t want to come and live in your dumbass country.

At this stage nothing is surprising and none of this is normal. But it does make you wonder if there’s any kind of threshold we can imagine for:

a) the American public
b) the Republican Party?

Almost certainly not. After all he was elected after the most appalling campaign and conduct in US history after all.

He mocked a disabled journalist, boasted of sexual assault and encouraged his supporters to attack people, so why would they care if he demeaned El Salvador?

The Republican Party have responded to his disgraceful behaviours largely with increased sycophancy, so don’t hold your breath.

We know all this.

Neither does the diplomatic backlash matter much.

Haiti’s Ambassador to the United States Paul Altidor said he and the Haitian government “vehemently condemn” President Trump’s comments which they believe are “based on stereotypes.” “Either the president has been misinformed or he is miseducated.”

Altidor has formerly summoned a US official to explain Trump’s comments to Haiti’s officials. “Haitians fought along US soldiers in the revolutionary war and we continue to be great contributors to American society,” he said.

Nobody really cares.

NBC Micah Grames has written:

“I often see comments like “this is not America” in relation to Trump, and for many it certainly is not their ideals of America, but for other many, it very much is America. Many Trump views that shock have long histories in America, & he’s flicked on some yuge dormant spotlights.”

This is not just about Trump, this is about America, and a deep-seated triumphalism born out of pride in ignorance, cultural and geographical isolation and historical amnesia.

America elected a racist sociopath. He is dipping in the polls but may get re-elected.

Dirty Laundry

So you’re surprised he’s a racist? Did you somehow miss …

1. Housing discrimination
2. The Central Park 5 lie
3. Birtherism
4. Calling Mexicans drug dealers
5. The ban on Muslims
6. Pardoning Joe Arpaio
7. Calling Nazis “very fine people”
8. Endorsing slave-supporter Roy Moore
9. Saying Haitians: Have AIDS
10. Saying Nigerians: Live in huts
11. Saying Puerto Ricans are Lazy foreigners
12. Saying Blacks are Thugs, Mexicans are rapists and Muslims are Terrorists
13. Saying that Dreamers are a National security threat

Or his KKK Daddy?

This is not new. This is not a shock.

On the trail Trump often suggested people of color live like animals.

Hi racism is open, flagrant flaunted and adored.

What else will those “yuge spotlights” reveal?

Rebecca Solnit has talked of Trump’s “powerlessness hung out like dirty laundry”:

“The man in the white house sits, naked and obscene, a pustule of ego, in the harsh light, a man whose grasp exceeded his understanding, because his understanding was dulled by indulgence. He must know somewhere below the surface he skates on that he has destroyed his image, and like Dorian Gray before him, will be devoured by his own corrosion in due time too. One way or another this will kill him, though he may drag down millions with him. One way or another, he knows he has stepped off a cliff, pronounced himself king of the air, and is in freefall. Another dungheap awaits his landing; the dung is all his; when he plunges into it he will be, at last, a self-made man.”

Trump is an ogre, a tragedy, a ‘pustule of ego’, but he’s also a mirror.

Sure Trump is a racist but he’s the head of a racist society, with a racist police force, a racist legal system, a country founded on – built upon racism.

As was said again and again ‘Make America Great A~gain’ really meant ‘Make America White Again’.

As the tshirts says: “Fuck your feelings”.

Comments (32)

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  1. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Mar a Lago is reputedly, allegedly, not a heaven on earth.

  2. Deplorable says:

    Oh, so now these countries aren’t shitholes? It’ll be safe to deport criminals and terrorists back to them then?

    1. leavergirl says:

      haha

      When lefties want to support migrants piling in, their old countries are shitholes. Even when they aren’t. When they wanna hit on Trump, suddenly nobody has any shitholes. Riiiight…

      Insulting America is just about to lose you readership, Mike Small. Apparently, calling some countries dumbass is just fine but calling some countries shitholes is not. Care to explain? Ach… nevermind…

  3. John Harvey says:

    As an American living in this “dumbass” country, yes, yes your writing is pretty much spot on. The GOP since the Civil Rights Voting Act of 1964 has become the party for racist Southern Democrats, and overall for terrified whites. Plus, it’s the Patrician party of the country as it successfully cons working class and poor whites into voting for its 1% agenda. Overall, the country is doping and shooting itself, suffering from high-priced, ineffective health care, letting its public schools and infrastructure fall apart as it whistles in the dark a tune of American Exceptionalism, which at this point means we’re exceptional because we’re a dumb, dangerous, lumbering giant incapable of any self-awareness or self-introspection. My family is moving to Sweden.

    1. leavergirl says:

      Oh yeah? I recommend Malmo. After all the fleeing Jews, there must be cheap real estate to be had.

  4. Susan Tichy says:

    I am a great admirer of Bella….but must say this editorial is as shallow as Trump himself. At the beginning, let us acknowledge that he did not win the popular vote but was elected because of our peculiar, anti-democratic electoral college. Beyond that, any assertion about our entire nation or our entire population is false even before you finish the sentence. Americans who read Bella are likely to be well-informed about our racist foundations, and to know that history in great detail. Suggesting that we are surprised by this latest Trump trash is truly ridiculous.

    1. ” let us acknowledge that he did not win the popular vote”

      Yeah lets, but lets also acknowledge he won and has significant support and that’s real? He didn’t parachute into the White House, he was elected.

      1. Susan Tichy says:

        He has very vocal support, from party activists and right wing biliionaires, and mumbling, rather desperate support from mainstream Republicans who don’t know WTF to do. Approval rating right now is somewhere in the 30 percents. In a country split very nearly 50/50 on many of the most important questions, there simply is no true statement about what “Americans” think or believe. As a Scottish friend said to me today when I told her about this editorial, it is especially strange in a Scottish context, given your struggles to be seen as a nation with a diverse past and even more diverse present, escaping tourist or political stereotypes on the one hand or undifferentiated Britishness on the other. I am not writing him or his supporters off as irrelevant or not dangerous – they are extremely dangerous and many of us are dealing with those dangers on a daily basis. But “we” are not equally and jointly responsible for his presence. Many of us agree with his wife, who reportedly cried on election night, and they were not tears of joy

      2. Concerned Yank says:

        “Yeah lets, but lets also acknowledge he won and has huge support and thats real”

        I don’t thing the vulgarian has “huge” support. The GOP has a faction that “supports” him far enough to get their 1% and corporate tax cuts passed. You’ll notice many of those politicians are now not running for re-election. They got the cash and are getting out. Your assertion may be correct, that those that remain are semi-racist, closet racists, outright racists, homophobes, bigots, KKK supporters, Nazi sympathizers, pedophile supporters, or just plain stupid people. They are the “deplorables” who supported and continue to support the vulgarian. But I don’t think there are as many as the GOP/Trump would like you to believe.

        His support among the “tax the middle and poor so we can give to the rich” crowd will drop. They are running away and the GOP will likely lose ground in the 2018 midterm elections, giving T no option to do anything except keep tweeting proof that he’s even stupider than we thought or that he has dementia. Unfortunately much damage has been done with taxes, immigration, oil drilling, medicare, net neutrality, supreme court, etc…He has undone in 1 year an amazing number of good things. That is the goal for the oligarchy: to upend everything, destroy order, create chaos, defund public services, turn public assets over to developers, disenfranchise likely opposition, gerrymander voting districts so that their unelectable lot can keep office, then grab the money.

        There are good and bad people everywhere. Governments run the full range, too. I believe there are more good people out there who will continue to push back and eventually move the country back toward the positive. I don’t think you judge the entire nation by its politicians, especially in any one point in time, but more on the long term.

        1. H – thanks for your comment. Of course there are good and bad ppeople everywhere, and I am not judging the entire country. YOu say “I don’t think you judge the entire nation by its politicians, especially in any one point in time, but more on the long term.” Unfortunately this is done despite Trump – over the record of American institutions on race and policing, incarcertion, over foreign relations, over social justice, over its treatments of the indigenous population and on

  5. Alan says:

    I don’t get the point of this article. It is hypocritical to criticise Trump for branding entire countries as shitholes based on stereotypes while doing exactly the same to America. Maybe the author had some cathartic need, a need I can sympathise with, but the analysis here is empty and goes  nowhere. “A country founded on – built upon racism”. One could say the same about the UK (in fact, haven’t the Brits been excellent tutors in awfulness?) but this type of mass branding doesn’t get anyone anywhere. It obliterates differences, resistance, and debate. Where is the history, the context, the political analysis? 

    May I suggest that anyone wanting analysis of what’s going on in the US, UK and elsewhere (and what needs to happen to get out of the mess we are all in) take a listen to Mark Blyth, a professor of political economy at Brown University.

    1. You really couldn’t say the same of the UK.

      The ‘Brits’ have been excellent tutors in awfulness but America’s founding act is massacring its indigenous population.

      1. Alan says:

        America’s founding act happened in Concord, Massachusetts on April 19, 1775. One can only hope that enough Scots get a clue and take the advice of their antecedent, John Witherspoon, given to the Continental Congress on July 2, 1776 with regards to the matter of independence, that the country is “in danger of rotting for the want of it”.

      2. Louis says:

        Ah was jist aboot tay say, a nation founded, on genocide, will never be at peace. The Germans know a thing or too, about this, they have a word for it;

        Vergangenheitsbewältigung.

        Phonetically Ver-gan-gen-heits-be-wäl-ti-gung.

        And for pronunciation, see here https://www.howtopronounce.com/german/vergangenheitsbew%C3%A4ltigung/

        I think, I may have come across this word, possibly on the Bella site, so just returning the favour, with context.

        Louis

  6. Rob Ross says:

    I think we make a hugely transcendental mistake when we equate a government or political leaders, or parties, with the country they purportedly represent. It’s standard practice, I know, but it plays into their hands (politicians’ and their interests) every time.

    As much as I wish it were otherwise, I don’t think that the SNP, Scottish Labour, or any other party, is entirely representative of Scotland, which is perhaps how it should be in a modern cosmopolitan European society. Just think of the east/west/north/south divides in Alba.

    I live in Spain now and I don’t think that there is one single political party that truly represents the people here neither, be it in Catalunya, Euskadi, Galicia or elsewhere. It’s complicated but not necessarily unworkable. However, it requires real unselfish, non-corporate effort, and setting your sites beyond the reach of your own nose.

    Most of my own American friends and relatives are anti-Trump. Thus, the ‘dumb-ass country’ soundbite doesn’t really do it justice. Sorry, Mike. I really do appreciate your work, but please don’t write off all the effort that is being made there to fight off this imminently dangerous sumph. Better to encourage the dissidents, perhaps?

    All the best

    1. Maybe misrepresented what I was trying to say out of sheer frustration.

      I have many many American friends and have lived iin various parts of America.
      I know too of the mass resistance there is.

      However I do think that Trum is a mirror as well as an ogre and I do think that America has racist institutions as well as leaders

    2. Always better to encourage the dissidents Rob.

      I’m not intending to equate the entire country with Trump – but he didnt apear out of the ether. Like it or not he represents something, does he not?

  7. Alf Baird says:

    Just because someone describes a country as a “shithole” does not make them a racist. Trump is a businessman who has operations in many different countries. He is widely travelled. He knows the difference between good and bad countries as far as doing business is concerned. His terminology is therefore not uncommon to those involved in international business and this relates to wider issues than simply the condition of the place or its people, e.g. corruption, culture etc. I have travelled internationally on business for some 40 years and I refuse to travel to some places on assignment because I know they are pretty much as Trump describes. PC neoliberal politicians seemed content to invite millions of people from such places to come and live in more developed higher-wage countries but they have grossly underestimated or simply ignored the consequences. The countries Trump describes will never improve simply by exporting their people – Scotland is a good example of that.

    1. Wow Alf.

      “Just because someone describes a country as a “shithole” does not make them a racist.”

      Well it does and the UN has today condemned him as such.

      Also if you read the article you’d have noted the long but incomplete list of other policy examples and statements that make him explitly racist.

      Your defence of him is utterly disgraceful.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        Well Ed, I have heard UN employees (informally) describe certain countries more or less the same way. That is often why the UN are called into these areas in the first place, to help sort them out. By the way, the UN also condemns what it calls ‘the scourge of colonisation’, not that it has done much good for Scotland, Catalonia, Malvinas, Cayman etc. We still talk about poor health, poverty, and inferior housing, educational attainment, and widening wealth gap and yes in corruption etc. even here in Scotland and sometime or other we will need to face up to the fact aspects of our country are similarly dysfunctional. I have seen vast improvements in several of what we used to call Less Developed Countries that put Scotland to shame. As The Corries used to say, ‘if the hat fits, wear it’.

        1. Yes that’s right – Scotland can be compared to colonised African countries.

          What a moronic comment to make.

          I note you avoid the multiple other ways that Trump is a racist. What dire evasion of the facts.

      2. Colin Campbell says:

        Vietnam and surrounding countries could have been described as shit holes 30 years ago, primarily due to the legacy of the war.

        But, there is something about their people that makes them organise and conquer grinding poverty and other problems. Not completely, but the progress made by Cambodia from where it started off is staggering beyond all belief. Another factor is that the US does not have as much influence as it once had. China has filled that gap and is less mendacious.

        Africa, you visit some countries, e.g. DRC, Ethiopia or Niger and wake up on a bad day and look out of the window and see people with nothing to do, people dressed shabbily, sub-standard / dangerous infrastructure, pollution, open sewer’s, litter, people lying around who should be in hospital, beggars, cemeteries where the majority of graves are new and no food in the shops, you think to yourself, what a shit hole.

        Conversely you wake up on a good day in DRC, Ethiopia or Niger and see people overcoming adversity, the scenery is amazing and you will have a different view.

        Interestingly he did not mention India, where there is huge inequality and many of the world’s poor reside.

        All the countries that Trump describes as shit holes are ex-colonies and still living with the legacy of empire. There never has been proper reparation or even recognition.

        Trump is clearly wrong and stupid to air his views with the audience as he did yesterday, more so because it was MLK day. Is he a racist for his comments yesterday, no, he is pig ignorant and stupid.

        I’d be more inclined to call him a racist for his policies that disproportionately hurt black Americans more so than their white, Latino or Asian counterparts. Trump implements these policies knowing this will be the case, which is criminal.

        When you have travelled widely, especially to developing realms, you are enlightened to what an amazing world we live in. But, you cannot close your eyes to the fact that there are many places where westerners are shocked and horrified to see how people live. In turn this could lead to the “shit hole” description. Most however, would have the good grace to keep their feelings to themselves.

        1. Wul says:

          Isn’t the point that Trump made these comments as The President of The United Sates of America?

          It may (arguably) be forgivable for someone down the pub with their mates to describe a country they have had a bad experience in in those terms. However Trump holds the highest office of one of the most powerful and influential countries in the world.

          He doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of holding a public office. He officially represents the people of the USA, he was elected to do thus. He shouldn’t just spout the first four letter words that flit across his mind.

          Even the president of your local bowling club has grasped this simple concept. Trump, however either doesn’t get it or doesn’t care. In either scenario he’s not fit for office.

          What is sad and scary is that we now seem to accept Trump’s infantile tantrums, acting out and disrespect for the office of POTUS as somehow normal. It is actually insane.

  8. Andy M says:

    While it is true that there are some countries that could be described as “shitholes”, we should look at some of the reasons why this is so. Many countries were working to improve life for their citizens only to have the US version of freedom thrust upon them. Iraq and Libya are only two examples where US intervention has destroyed infrastructure and standards of living for those living there, all for the almighty US dollar and control of resources by corporations, and to ensure that there is no organised local opposition to US plans. If they could get away with it, Iran would be given “freedom” tomorrow.

  9. w.b.robertson says:

    Alf`s view is not “utterly disgraceful”. I too have worked in many countries abroad and there are several that fall into the arsehole category. Put it another way…I would not want any of my grandchildren deciding to visit/tour/work/live in them If that makes me a racist so be it. Get real.

    1. It is disgraceful, sounds like you’re Grandchildren have a racist old Grandad.

  10. Rob Ross says:

    It’s plain to see here that time and memory fade away unforgivingly. The ‘shithole’ that everywhere on Earth was once upon a time is just an old cliche now, but logged somewhere in the moral side of the brain and a loose collective conscience was the ideal of helping others in their own struggle to get out of Shitholeland. It should be a lot easier than ever to take meaningful help to those places, but that’s another story

  11. Pogliaghi says:

    In a nutshell the center of American power has turned into an episode of Top Gear. A fantasy driven narrative where an SJW’s inverse fantasy of the “big p patriarchal” wind up merchant is worshiped as an avatar of revanchism in the liberal vs conservative culture wars. A mutually reinforcing dialectic of outrage dependency, snide right wing contempt and simplistic leftie formulas (“they’re all just misogynists!1 And literally nazis!1”).

    But the outrage has already been factored into the polling numbers which are worse than any other president in history, and so, here’s the catch. The BBC could fire Clarkson. But the Constitution can’t impeach POTUS for being an edgelord. And that’s the whole problem. The American working class and other disadvantaged groups are already screwed. Too bad. But how are we going to get rid of him before he has a mental breakdown and starts WW3?

    The portrait painted in Fire and Fury — of an absolute imbecile, in private as well as in public — points the way. At some point even the most dogged Republicans need to see that Trump’s stupidity is not a triumph of the will but rather equates to an unmanly form of weakness. At the moment, every news cycle of “lol Trump trolled the liberals good” is actually reinforcing them..

  12. Campbell says:

    A lot of hate being spread in this article.

    1. Paul D says:

      One could say this is in reply to a lot of hate generated by Trump.
      Having lived worked abroad and travelled extensively. There is a lot of poor places caused by poverty but many are the results of imperialism. With the legacy of divide and conquer, plus the support of dictator regimes. Of which The Old Imperialists and now the America has supported these regimes while permitting these regimes to maintain their countries in poverty and suppression of the population against change.

      American’s aid comes with pretty much no improvement to these poor countries. There is an America legacy from supporting Bin Laden to preseday using the Kurds in Syria. that has created shitholes.

      As the guy shining shoes Said to me “Remember when you walk out the Greyhound Bus station in LA. if you pick the wrong door you end up walking in a shithole called Skid row.”

      In NY do not go to Central Park at Night time and there are many more areas in America which are clearly defined as shit holes.

      Poor countries struggle and often are exploited by their political leaders who all have their money banked in USA. or British offshore banks.Greed creates these places and remember Africa has been exploited for generations.
      Trump needs educating but he is so conceited and focused on greed that he is incapable of any decent human traits. Cutting the water off to his tenants in Scotland to get them to leave their cottegies is the type of person he is. Selling munitions and war planes to Saudi to bomb Yemen and keep ISIS stocked.
      That is business to the USA.

  13. Frank says:

    “He didn’t parachute into the White House, he was elected.” Correct, so perhaps instead of launching into a petulant rant against Trump and his supporters you would be better asking yourself why he had so much support.

    We suposedly live in democracies where we vote for political Parties according to their manifestos but every Party ends up subtly imposing what turns out to be a common agenda that comes from elsewhere and is socially subversive. That agenda either wasn’t in their manifesto or its implications were either misrepresented or never explained. Then when enough people wake up to the consequences and react against them, the self appointed Avant Garde, unable to present a cogent argument, resort to verbal intimidation and those who resent what is happening to their country and the consequences for themselves and their families, are branded “Nazis”, “racists”, “homophobes” etc. Then the same arrogant politicians who are responsible, rather than address the underlying issues, introduce laws criminalising such manifestations of resentment.

    It is a rather devious and dangerous attempt to change not only the structure but the very consciousness and values of individuals and of society itself. People are not infintely malable and it is in recognition of that fact that we have human rights, the purpose of which is to protect the integrity of the individual and the family from the abuse of power.

    Our politicians, and their cheer leaders, would do well to heed Adam Smith’s observation on those who would manipulate society for their own ends. (I paraphrase him)

    ‘If those who govern society treat individuals as pieces on a chess board and forgets that, unlike the inanimate chess pieces, people are individuals each with a mind of their own, they will find that if their aims are different from the interests of the individual then the whole process will go on miserably and society must at all times be in the highest degree of disorder.’ (Smith TMS p233-34)

    You can find that principle in the preamble to most human rights declarations.

    1. It’s important to identify people whose worse and actions define them as “Nazis”, “racists” and “homophobes” as Nazis, racists and homophobes.

      No inverted commas required.

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