"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
The Real Problem with the "Shithole" Controversy
Watching the continued news coverage about the President Trump calling Haiti, El Salvador and African countries "shitholes" I find that a lot of commentators are, sometimes conveniently, missing the point of what is so disturbing about the President's vulgar reference. His labeling of certain countries as "shitholes," by itself, would only be a diplomatic gaffe. There are certain things a President shouldn't say out loud such as comments denigrating countries with which the United States has to deal. A President employing common sense, which this President apparently does not have, would not have chosen such a vulgar label in describing those countries.
The real problem though was that his "shithole" comment wasn't really about the countries so labeled, but rather about the people who live in those countries. President Trump was saying that the value of people is defined by the country from which they originate. If people are from a "shithole", then they are less worthy of becoming American.
Such an ignorant comment by the President ignores the American history of immigration and the American experience. Pretty much everyone who lives in this country had ancestors who came from "shitholes." That fact did not define who our ancestors were. Rather, it is because of the hunger for a better life that immigrants fled their "shithole" lives in their shithole countries to come to America. Armed with ambition and the dream of a better life, most became great citizens who contributed so much to this country. Trump's comment is a yet another assault on American values, in particular, the ideal emblazoned on the Statute of Liberty:
And, no, I don't for a second believe the President's late assertion that he never made the "shithole" statement. First, given the President's penchant for constantly lying, he starts with zero credibility when compared to that of Senator Durbin and Graham. Then you have the fact is the White House went 12 hours before there was a denial that the statement was made. During that 12 hour stretch, President Trump gleefully was contacting conservative friends thinking the statement would play really well with the base.
It was only when there was major criticism from pretty much everyone that the President reversed course and denied making the statement. That's when Senators Cotton and Perdue chimed in with their "can't recall" statements. When the blowback didn't dissipate and, in fact, intensified, Senators Cotton and Perdue's memory suddenly evolved, so that they were now able to recall that the President didn't say "shithole." Several others in the room, including Republicans, did not back up the President's denial, except for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nelson who during a congressional hearing yesterday claimed she only heard the President use "tough language." Please. Cotton, Perdue and Nelson should be ashamed of themselves. It is so disgusting how so many in my party are willing to throw away their reputations and integrity to lie for a President who has no loyalty but to himself.
This country deserves better.