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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?”