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If the Sh*thole Epithet Fits, Wear It

Mexico Favela housing on hillside at Guanajuato, Guanajuato

Let’s forget for a moment whether Trump ever called any countries at all sh*tholes. It seems as though the only report we have of this is Dick Durbin’s and Dick Durbin is known to be a fabulist.

However, let’s for a moment contemplate the reactions of the world to this word that might or might not have been said.

Let’s, in particular, contemplate the reactions of the countries that thought themselves insulted.

Take Haiti for instance. Anderson Cooper took offense on behalf of Haiti.

Do you know what strength it takes to survive on rainwater buried under concrete?" Cooper asked. "The people of Haiti have been through more ... they fought back against more injustice than our president ever has."

Cooper acknowledged that Haiti, like all countries, contained a mix of people but characterized Haitians as widely having a distinct dignity.

"It's a dignity many in this White House could learn from," Cooper said. "It's a dignity that the president, with all his money and power, could learn from as well.

Sure, Mr. Cooper. But you know what? Whenever there is any big disaster, there are always people who survive on rainwater buried in concrete or the equivalent. I would expect you to remember the people who dug and dug in the rubble of the World Trade Center, long after it became obvious that there would be no survivors, hoping to get maybe a sliver of something that could allow a family to identify a loved one.

Sure, every country has the good and the bad, and some countries, like Haiti, require more fortitude to survive than just about anywhere else.

Since Haitians freed themselves from slavery and stopped growing the one commercial crop the island was capable of — sugar — they’ve been a basket case living off international charity. (Not that I blame them, since growing and harvesting sugar at the time was a miserable endeavor.) The island has been deforested, and the poverty is appalling.

But, Mr. Cooper, the fact that the people of Haiti have survived enormous adversity doesn’t make the place where they live not a sh*thole. On the contrary. It makes it a sh*thole that takes an enormous amount of strength and endurance to survive, but it is still a sh*thole.

And that’s why their people try to come here by the droves. But the fact that it’s a sh*thole or that its people are suffering doesn’t obligate us to take immigrants from Haiti. Because we are not a sort of charity shelter that takes in the deserving. We’re a country that takes in people who might become productive citizens. In those terms, Haitians should be judged as everyone else: “What do you bring to America, and what can you do for America?”

Or take former President Vicente Fox of Mexico, who took it upon himself to be profane in return for Trump’s supposed profanity: "Donald Trump, your mouth is the foulest shithole in the world. With what authority do you proclaim who's welcome in America and who's not?" Fox asked.

Dear Mr. Fox: He proclaims it with the authority of the president of the United States, who was elected in large measure because people wanted to put an end to the installment-plan invasion of their country by people that your country sends our way, wave after wave, after wave.

And why does your country do that, Mr. Fox?

It could be because you are incapable of sustaining rule of law or a functional economy or even to control the drug warlords who carry their ravages across the border into our country.

That part of your refusal to control any of this consists of your country’s ruling class callous attempt to both use our country as an outlet for their undesirables and as a way to increase/give your country a non-ludicrous GDP is in fact despicable.

Mexico needs a flood of immigrants – legal and illegal – to come to the United States and send back remittances to keep food on the table and the lights burning. According to this site:

An estimated 20% of Mexican residents regularly receive some financial support from workers abroad. Such remittances are the mainstay of the economies of many Mexican communities, such as many rural areas in Durango, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Jalisco and Michoacán. Studies suggest that the funds sent as remittances are mostly spent on housing, food, clothing and durable consumer goods. A growing portion is being invested in education and small businesses. The corollary is that only a small percentage goes towards savings.

In 2008, remittances flowing back to Mexico exceeded $25 billion.The value of remittances fell slightly in 2009, according to World Bank figures, but are forecast to increase again this year. Only India and China, both with far higher populations than Mexico, have larger sums of remittances entering their economies.

Mr. Fox, a country that needs to send its citizens abroad to send back the needed income to 20 percent of its population, a country that can’t even minimally enforce the law within its borders and that encourages law breaking toward its neighbor to the North, is, let’s face it, objectively a sh*thole.

Were it not a sh*thole, we would not have a problem with illegal immigration, and you wouldn’t have to so vehemently defend an honor you don’t have.

Yes, I understand Mexico is a proud country. Do tell me what it has to be proud of! Is it the fact that you have to send your citizens like beggars abroad? Is it your inability to enforce the law? Is it your governance, which is the laughing stock of the world?

You don’t like to be called a sh*thole? Very well. Stop being one. Give less consideration to your “image” in the world and more to how your country functions. Stop the corruptocracy. Enforce honesty and the rule of law. Reform your schools. Stop the rampaging of the drug lords.

Stop expecting the U.S. to take your troublemakers with or without visas and to send you back the product of their labor. The U.S. is not obligated to take whoever wishes to come here. The floods of immigrants willing to work for nothing distort our labor market and corrupt our rule of law.

Instead of calling President Trump names, consider the names your country deserves. When the flood of immigrants is equal across the border, perhaps you’ll be allowed to cast stones, but right now? Right now you depend on us. And you don’t get to influence our decision on who comes into our house or not. Because it is not your decision.

And then there was South Africa. Dear Lord. There was South Africa.

I realize that since the fall of apartheid it has become fashionable for the American left to speak of how great South Africa is. Meanwhile, those of us who have friends and acquaintances there have been hearing of a vast diaspora, not just of white people (though also of white people) but of anyone skilled or with a hope for a technical profession in a country in which there is the rule of law and some kind of economy.

South Africa, of course, pronounced itself in the following terms:

DIRCO noted South Africa's contributions to the United States and said international reactions "clearly serve as a united affirmation of the dignity of the people of Africa and the African diaspora." The statement also noted that Monday was Martin Luther King Day in the United States.

Yes, it was Martin Luther King Day. You know, he who said that he wished people to be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their characters.

Meanwhile, most of that South African diaspora consists of white people. And before someone says that these must be the racists upset at the overturning of apartheid, let me reassure you that at least three such immigrants I know fought to end apartheid.It is just that the government of South Africa, currently, is not color blind, and that there is very little future for white South Africans.

And the truth is that no one even implied that the people of South Africa, whatever their color, are sh*tholes.  Only that the nation itself is a sh*thole.

The government of South Africa then engaged in tu quoque pointing out that there is racism and homelessness in America.  I haven’t seen that segment (apparently on CNN) but it was reported to me and to a good friend of mine, Dave Freer, who is an immigrant in Australia, from South Africa. His reaction to this commentary was the following:

My friend Sarah Hoyt pointed me to a self-righteous fury spewing from the South African ANC (the political party which has governed South Africa since the end of apartheid) about the idea of South Africa being a shit-hole and how bad America was. I was born there, and eventually migrated to Australia, of which I am now a proud citizen, and which I love, and try my best to pay back for its enormous generosity in taking us in.  Now, South Africa is a beautiful country, with some fine people… but the ANC have presided over it now having one of the highest murder and rape stats of any country in the world not at war.  Corruption is endemic, and racial hatred – both white on black and black on white – if anything is worse than at the end of apartheid. Public Health is in a sad state, and education isn’t much to write home to mother about, principally because ‘writing’ might be challenge, and mother (adult education is a neglected disgrace) still can’t read. There are squatter camps, squalor, mud huts without toilets in the bush. Electrical grids are failing, potable water is a major problem. There are good patches of course. There are things which have improved. But it’s only not a shit-hole when compared to places like Zimbabwe. Any criticism from it is like a serial child rapist and murderer complaining about you saying ‘shut up’ to your kid.

Then there is the icing on the cake: a bunch of people from those alleged sh*tholes bragging of their accomplishments in America.

Note that they are no longer in their countries of origin. If those are so wonderful, we invite them to go back.

The U.S. is not a charity, forced to take anyone who wants to come here because their need is great. We are a great country, and thriving like none other in the history of this sorry world, but even we can’t give shelter and opportunity to everyone who wants to come here to escape the mess their countries have become.

We get to pick and choose, and while we have traditionally given refuge to those in dire need, economic hardship is not, by itself, dire need. Nor are we, for that matter, forced to give refuge if we think you’ll bring the mess back in your country of origin with you.

Do you want to come to the U.S.? Great. Splendid. Come because you want to be an American, not because you want to defend tooth and nail the sh*thole you left behind. We are not your mommy. We are not your daddy. We want you to leave your parents' basement and make your own way to American freedom and prosperity.  If you can’t do that, go back to the sh*thole.

Fit in or f*ck off.

We don’t care what sh*thole you came from, we just care that you want to be an American.

And if you’re not here, don’t want to come here, and don’t want to be an American but are offended because your country was called names, don’t waste spit defending your pride. Prove us wrong by making your country one that people don’t want to leave in droves. And shut up about it.