Admit it, you’ve called some place a shithole or something similar at some point.
I know I have. I’ve called hotels, cities, restaurants, rest stop bathrooms, cars, and houses shitholes. Virtually anything that can be considered a place or thing has received the dreaded title of shithole at some point. I’ve even called my own house a shithole. I also, much like the President, have a massive penchant for exaggeration. I call virtually anything that I consider mediocre “total shit” or “fucking garbage” even though they clearly aren’t. I’ve eaten meals, seen movies, or played video games that wouldn’t even be in the bottom 20 worst of all time, and yet I still use the “total shit” moniker. One of the only qualities I have in common with the President is massive exaggeration. To me, things are either the greatest of all time, or they are a total shithole.
This week we arrived at Shithole Gate.
Apparently, the President used the term shithole to describe a few countries that came up as part of the DACA negotiations. Now, this part is actually unclear, as he says he didn’t call Haiti a shithole, a couple of senators said they heard it, and a couple said they didn’t. Either way, most people are pretty sure he said something like that, even though us thinking he said it doesn’t make it true. We already heard both Chris Cuomo of CNN and Maggie Haberman of the Times say that it “feels” true, which is not a fact based argument. However, for the purposes of this article, I will assume that he said it. Now that I acknowledge he probably said it, I’m going to say he is totally correct in the assertion that there are absolutely shithole countries on this planet. Should he have said it? Of course not. I’ve said lots of things in private that probably don’t look good, and I’m sure you have too. Setting that aside though, let’s take a look at the substance of what he said. He said (allegedly) that we take too many people from shithole countries, and not enough from places like Norway, who’s leader he had just finished talking with the day before.
Now, let’s be objective here. Norway has the highest standard of living and Human Development Index on the planet. That means that literally every other place on the planet is technically worse than Norway. One could make an argument that several parts of the United States are more of a shithole than Norway. So in effect, if you have a country that is ranked 150 vs rank 1 in the Human Development Index, one is clearly a bigger shithole than the other. Personally, given my penchant for exaggeration, I’d probably call any country below 25 or so a shithole. I understand however, that HDI ranking isn’t the be all end all of determining a country’s worth. With that said, let’s take a look at the main charge of shithole gate, the racism. In watching CNN that night, besides hearing the word shithole on cable TV at least 50 times, the main thing I heard was how racist it was. I mean how could it not be, places like Haiti and Nigeria are largely black, and Norway is clearly white. Here’s the problem with that argument: Virtually any immigrant from those places will agree with that their home country is a shithole. I’ve heard many people from India or Somalia absolutely admit that their countries are shitholes, and that’s why they wanted to come here in the first place. Let’s take a look at the travel guide from the State department of what constitutes a level 4 travel advisory:
“Do not travel to due to crime, terrorism, and piracy. Violent crime, such as kidnapping, rape and murder, is common. Illegal roadblocks are also widespread. Terrorists continue to plot kidnappings, bombings, and other attacks. They may attack with little or no warning, targeting airports and seaports, government buildings, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, and other areas where large crowds gather.”
That my friends is a shithole. And that doesn’t even cover the economic situation, or government corruption, or any number of things that constitute a shithole. Now, back to the racism argument. The real question is: Are shitholes just comprised of black and brown people? Well, first of all, the significant majority of the planet is either black or brown, so therefore math alone suggests that there will likely be more shitholes that have black or brown people in them. So are there any white shitholes? I’d argue there’s one really big one for sure:
I haven’t met a lot of Russian immigrants, but I can tell you overwhelmingly that the ones I have met think their old country is a shithole. I’ve heard enough evidence to convince me that I would never want to live there. In addition, Russia outranks dozens of “black and brown” countries on the State department’s own travel advisory list, where there are dozens of countries ranked at a 1 (which is no threat) and Russia has a big fat 3, which is the second highest. In addition, guess what? Denmark and a few other “white” countries are on the advisory list at a two. Now personally I think a 2 doesn’t qualify for shithole status, but it’s certainly closer to being a shithole than a 1.
The President is arguing for merit based immigration, and that means that a qualified person could gain admittance, regardless of country of origin. So the question becomes, would a merit based system allow for the entry of qualified people from Haiti or various African countries? If the answer is yes, then that is not a racist system. In addition, the merit based proposal just due to population metrics would still be a large number of non-white people, and likely a majority at that. Returning back to the original question of racism, is saying that Haiti or Yemen are shitholes racist? No one is saying all the people there are shit, but the country as a whole is clearly a shithole by any objective standard. Now, I’ve heard a number of journalists in places like the Washington Post argue that they are shitholes, but only because it’s our fault. Places like Haiti have a complicated history, so maybe you could make that argument, however the end result however, is still a shithole. When only 35% of your country has plumbing, that is a top notch shithole indicator. Literally. Personally, I think we should stop all immigration. Complete moratorium until our vets, homeless, schools and unemployment are all taken care of properly.
I used shithole 32 times in this article, almost as many as CNN.
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Steve is the author of Forging the Iron Mind, and is the founder and CEO of Americana Prime.