Friday, January 12, 2018

Why would Trump say "shithole countries"? It helps him.

The mainstream media and Democrats are appalled and disgusted.  Donald Trump called countries in Africa, Latin America and Haiti "shithole countries."  He said he prefers immigrants from Norway.

Does it get any more overtly racial and disrespectful than that?   No.  

He is acting like pure Trump.  That is why it helps him.  I realize this is un-intuitive to people appalled by Trump's behavior.  Keep reading.

Media uncertain whether to spell out "shithole."
Liberals and the media are blinded by their distaste for Trump, so they repeatedly underestimate him. Trump did not forget to be respectful and politic.   This wasn't an accident of Trump being off message or careless.  It was the opposite.  He expressed the unfiltered gut feeling of a significant block of people, a majority of Republican party voters.  That bonded Trump to them and it manipulated his opponents perfectly.

Trump is winning on several fronts.

1.  Trolling liberals.  Liberals, educated people, diplomats, scholars, the media, and nearly everyone who was brought up to think it is impolite to make gratuitously disrespectful comments have gone apoplectic.  Democrats need to learn something: conservatives love driving liberals crazy. There is disagreement within Republican voters about immigration, taxes, health care, and every other issue but there is no disagreement on who the enemies are.  But anything that makes Hillary Clinton angry is good.  Anything that makes some Harvard diplomat speak out in somber tones is good.  Anything that makes the New York Time editorial people disgusted is good.

If your politically correct enemies are unhappy then Trump must have done something right.

Off message for a day.
2.  Changed the story back to Trump as warrior.  Trump sent a brief shock wave through GOP lawmakers and opinion leaders when, briefly two days ago, he sounded like a legislative president rather than a tribal leader.  He said he would sign any legislation on immigration that could get through Congress.  He appeared to have "gone soft," looking for consensus, not hard line ideology.  He seemed open to comprehensive reform, not deportations, and he was showing empathetic concern for immigrants. Talk radio objected.  The anti-immigrant people in the GOP objected. Trump put out that fire, suddenly and dramatically.  Norway, yes. El Salvador, "shithole."  Trump is Trump again.  

3.  Re-asserts American hierarchy.  Trump understood that American voters had read Obama's mild tone and support for multilateral agreements as weakness. All the GOP presidential candidates cited Obama "fecklessness."  Trump uses overt disrespect to declare dominance.  Politeness and courtesy imply mutual worth--or at least the pretense of it. Trump's casual insults demonstrate America back on top. You can only gratuitously insult your inferiors.

4.  A lot of Americans agree with Trump: those countries are miserable shitholes.   Well traveled, educated Americans tended not to support Trump.  Trump's big margins were with less educated white males. Their support for Trump reflects rejection of "cultural equivalence" and multicultural respect.  They felt oppressed by the liberal-diversity, politically-correct agenda that declared that differences were good, and that people must respect alternative cultures and lifestyles.  A great many Americans resent the idea that Islam and Christianity are equivalent; Christianity is good and Islam is frightening.  They don't like ballots in multiple languages; this is America, darn it, so speak English.  They don't think El Salvador and Norway are equivalent; Norwegians are light skinned and look like "regular Americans" and El Salvadorians don't mix in.  America is getting browner, women are demanding equality, and the thought-police tell people they have to be nice to everyone.

A great many Americans see unfamiliar foreign ways as uncomfortably weird, and therefore wrong.  Third world poverty is unfamiliar and unlovely. 

Donald Trump said aloud what a great many people think but were afraid to say.  Those places are shitholes.  That is why they like him.


Chris Van Dyke said...

Peter, I read with interest your always relevant and thoughtful commentary. Folks running in the 2D (or other races) can benefit by considering your observations. In the case of this piece, however, I have to ask: So what? How on God's green earth does it matter that Trump is made stronger by this or that his diminishing following agrees with this behavior? At some point any one who is a viable candidate...anyone who considers himself or herself a real leader... needs to stand up, call this out for what it is and move forward. Hopefully, they does so upon the belief that the majority of voters (from BOTH parties) will find this morally reprehensible and unacceptable.
That Trump supporters may support this has absolutely no relevance whatsoever in calculating a political response. None. Zero. We have a moral imperative to speak up and condemn these words without regard to political consequences.

There was a great editorial in the Chicago Tribune. I quoted it in a Facebook post, but it is worth quoting here. This is what candidates running in the 2d need to consider.
"Tell me, what did you say? Mark it down, let it be known. Because you will be asked this again someday.
And if you stayed silent, if you made excuses, if you tried to fool yourself into believing this is appropriate presidential behavior, if you let it slide because this presidency might somehow line your pocketbook, then you will be remembered as complicit, as one who stood by and let America’s decency get dragged through the mud.
And if you laughed, or if you smiled, or if you nodded your head in agreement, you will be remembered just as Trump will: As a racist, a fool and an absolute embarrassment."

cvd said...

Apologies for the grammatical error. Should be " Hopefully, they do so (not does) upon the belief that the majority of voters (from BOTH parties) will find this morally reprehensible and unacceptable." Early. Not nearly enough coffee.

Rick Millward said...

Well said and sadly all true.

However, with each and every incident I have to believe that these not just racist but white supremacist attitudes become more marginalized. In a healthy society a certain amount of ignorance and bigotry can be tolerated even as we strive to eradicate hate, including hate speech, but it is now clear that the time has come for this to be completely unacceptable. This does not reflect the majority and hopefully good and thoughtful people will push it from our public square and back under the rock where it belongs.

While sounding "tough", these comments reflect fear. White supremacy is a vestige of slavery and the subsequent oppression of people of color that was finally addressed by the civil rights acts of 1866 and 1964. These people fear being held accountable for generations of discrimination, America's shameful legacy which continues generation after generation. People like Trump are taught to hate. It takes extraordinary emotional and intellectual strength to overcome this conditioning, which many simply do not possess.

Thad Guyer said...

Trump was irate that despite the only immigrants included and discussed in the DACA deal being young Dreamers, two goofball senators presented him with a non-Dreamers deal. The day before at the televised White House bipartisan meeting only the Dreamers were on the agenda. Trump says bring me a partisan bill of love on the Dreamers. So the next day Durbim and Graham show up to sell Trump their bipartisan Dreamer bill and what does it contain? A new list of non-Dreamer immigrants having nothing to do with DACA. Trump went ballistic with in effect "why the hell are you suddenly loading the bill up with non-Dreamers from shithole countries, you think I would sign this,you think I'll go to my base with that?"

Shithole countries is not a DACA issue. Why? Because 80% of the DACA "kids" are in fact from shithole countries, murderous poor under educated countries like Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras. Trump takes enormous grief from his base for saying he loves these DACA kids from those very same shithole countries. He's trying to get a DACA deal for shithole country youth, and the two feckless Senators show up with a bill with zero chance of passing if it legalizes non-DACA shithole country adults; a provision utterly unrelated to Dreamers.

Big amnesty senators like Durbin and Graham, both prior members of the Gang of 8 who doomed the Dream Act under Obama, need to stick to the only deal with any chance of passing-- save the DACA kids if we can. Adults from the many struggling and nightmarish shitholes on the planet are not on the agenda for the January 19th deadline. Get with the program please.

Up Close: Road to the White House said...

I am reminding readers and candidates of the great sin deep in the heart of American history politics, the hierarchy of race. We are still fighting the Civil War, still in Reconstruction, and have only partly digested the Civil Rights acts of 1964 and 1965. White Americans embedded racial thinking in the hierarchy of the antebellum South and it is the American creed both north and south. The union Army won the war but the South wan the peace. It is still with us. Only 37% of White’s vote for the Democratic candidate year after year, going back to 1968,

The lesson to learn is that the Democrat cannot must do two things simultaneously. Embrace the civil rights movement without qualification AND assure whites, and especially white men, that the candidate understands that it is not easy to be white, either, and that people of all races and genders struggle to make their way in the world. The man earning $12 an hour working the morning shift at the supermarket’s produce department’s delivery dock does not feel like an oppressor or that he is lording it over anyone. He has bills to pay, child support, new tires, rent, insurance, and he can feel like Democrats understand the challenges that black and brown people feel, but not his challenges. Democrats need to be able to say ALL lives matter without diminishing the commitment to racial equality. It is a narrow path and may not be possible but it is what must be done, I believe. I write of the reality of white backlash not to celebrate it but to acknowledge its political power.

Democrats need to condemn racism without condemning all the racists. The white guy who is uncomfortable with a black neighbor doesn’t think he is racist. He thinks George Wallace was racist and that the man himself is simply being sensible and realistic.

Chris Van Dyke said...

Sorry Peter, I understand what you are saying but disagree on one point. We all know the history of antebellum south. And what progressive can argue with the notion of embracing the civil rights movement? What I don’t buy is that any candidate needs, or should even consider, acknowledging that it is “not easy to be a white male”.

It is not easy to be poor. It is not easy to be uneducated or from a single parent family or to grow up in an environment that is defined by violence or drugs. It is tragic that anyone is ill and without health insurance to cover the costs or have lost their employment from a factory going off shore or their job becoming obsolete. I have the deepest concern for the opportunity-deficit created by all these circumstances. These are the things that all candidates should, and must, address.

But being white and being male has, since this country’s inception, built in institutionalized privilege that we must acknowledge every singe day. It is this privilege, and whites’ failure to recognize it, at the core of our struggle for racial justice. We do nothing but perpetuate the roots of racism when we pander to the hatred fueled by whites that do not recognize this privileged and, instead, blame “others” for their plight. White backlash is not going to go away because we participate in their ignorant and race-based pity party.

What we should, and where I think we agree, is speak to a future that provides everyone equal opportunities. We should address the challenges of income inequality, of globalization and automation and new tech and all consequences of our “third industrial revolution”. In other words, speak to the REAL causes restricting opportunity…..and make education a priority in addressing the ignorance at the core of racism. At the same time we should condemn loudly and clearly the sort of behavior we saw from 45 yesterday. Any official…. or candidate…who is reluctant in condemning this sort of behavior is complicit in it.

Wayne Taylor said...

Good blog, Peter. The point is very clear by now that POTUS-45 excites and shores up his deplorable base whenever he behaves in his typical racist, boastful, bullying, and pitifully insecure manner. Dreamers must be given a lifeline with DACA now without doing the larger Immigration Reform, but why must Trump insult the Dreamer-half of the world by calling it a "shithole" (which is actually located in his mouth)? What I'm wondering, though, is what good it will do politically for Trump or his die-hard Repuglicans to have the support of 32% of Americans, but to make enemies of the 65% of Americans who are Democrats, Independents, or Moderates. A large majority of Americans now is disgusted with Trump's posture which is a throw-back to the past, seeking to glorify a golden age which never existed, to reclaim white privilege. It's past time to stop sympathetically psychoanalyzing and pandering to the small minority of Deplorable citizens that have been fooled by Trump into believing his BS. He is all posturing, and no policy; His congressional allies policies will hurt the Red-states worst of all.
After the Senate and House tips toward Dem. majority control in Nov 2018, and the tipping point is reached for certain spineless Repug. Reps when special prosecutor Mueller's money-laundering and Obstruction of Justice indictment comes out, it will be impossible for Trump to avoid impeachment and prosecution. I don't think 32% will be enough. How can Trump avoid disaster when most of the country wants to see him impeached?