US President Trump’s outrageous remarks on various poor nations – calling them “shitholes” – not only reveal a heartless racist. Donald Trump also shows himself to be appallingly ignorant.
What does it say about our world when the leader of supposedly the most powerful military nation is a complete ignoramus about the most basic facts of history? Surely, this is an horrific danger to all of humanity from having someone so reckless and stupid with access to nuclear weapons.
The global indignation over Trump’s foul denigration continues to mount days after he uttered it. The African Union representing 55 nations has demanded an apology from the president. He is now trying to walk back his incendiary comments in a blatant attempt to lie, which is only fueling more anger.
What’s even more abhorrent is that the vast majority of the countries that Trump was referring to can trace their intractable problems of poverty and violence directly to US involvement in those countries. Yet, he crassly wonders why America has any obligation to shelter people fleeing from them.
During a meeting last Thursday with Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the White House to discuss US immigration policy, Trump reportedly became frustrated when the list of countries receiving Temporary Protected Status (TPS) was read out to him.
Currently there are ten countries afforded TPS by official US immigration controls. Such status permits the entry of a certain quota of citizens.
They are: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Yemen and Syria.
Trump reportedly blurted out: “What do we want Haitians here for? Why do we want all these people from Africa here? Why are we having all these people from shithole countries coming here?”
He then capped his racist, exploitative view of the world by adding: “We should have more people from places like Norway.”
So, in Trump’s shallow, utilitarian worldview, as long as you are blond, blue-eyed, educated and from a wealthy state then you are welcome in the US to be utilized for its economic growth.
Trump’s disgust with the listed immigrant countries shows his astounding cluelessness, or maybe callousness.
For the fact is that nine of the ten countries afforded TPS – 90 per cent – can attribute their immigration tendency to the legacy of destructive US policies bearing down on those countries.
Only one of them, Nepal, has a humanitarian crisis unrelated directly to American foreign policy, resulting from a natural cause – the earthquake that hit the Himalayan South Asian nation in April 2015.
Let’s quickly review the 90 per cent.
El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua have all been left with a legacy of US-backed wars over several decades. During the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, the US flooded the Central American region with weapons and American-trained death squads to hunt down leftwing guerrillas, politicians, labour activists, peasants, land rights activists, and priests – anyone who was deemed to threaten the traditional US-backed power structure of Caudillo regimes subordinate to American corporations and capital.
It is estimated that US-backed wars killed as many as 200,000 people across Central America, leaving populations traumatized, impoverished and tormented subsequently with armed criminal gangs.
Nicaragua is a poignant case in point. Its leftwing revolutionary Sandinista government – which ousted the decades-old US-backed Somoza dictatorship in 1979 – was destroyed by American proxy war using Contra death squads operating out of Honduras.
Currently, there are some 250,000 Salvadorans living as migrants in the US. Trump wants to send them all back to their country. A recurring fear among the migrants is the rampant violence from armed gangs in El Salvador – a direct legacy of past US military intervention.
It is true that Nicaragua and El Salvador were also hit by earthquakes which have exacerbated humanitarian problems of poverty and social degradation. But arguably the violence and political turmoil fomented in those countries by the US over decades is the major destructive factor in those societies.
The same can be said for Haiti. The Caribbean island country was devastated by an earthquake in 2009, and is reportedly still reeling from the impact. Nevertheless, the intractable poverty and social discord is a legacy of US governments backing decades of dictatorships under Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier. Repeated US military invasions over the past century to repress socially progressive politics ensured that Haiti retained its function as an impoverished offshore location for American corporations to ruthlessly exploit for sweatshop labor.
Regarding African countries on the TPS list, US policy was instrumental in the break-up of Sudan into Northern and Southern states in 2011-2012. That, in turn, has wrecked the economies of both states and fomented conflicts, leading to massive displacement of communities.
Somalia on the Horn of Africa was invaded by US forces in the early 1990s and for the past three decades has been destabilized by relentless American military aggression from naval, air and drone strikes in a so-called “war on terror”.
More generally, Africa’s mass emigrations can also be traced directly to US and NATO European members waging illegal wars in several countries, including Libya, Mali, Niger, Ivory Coast and the Central African Republic. US-backed proxy wars in Angola, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique have too left a baleful legacy.
More generally, it can never be underestimated the extent of underdevelopment that Africa has been historically hobbled with from American and European colonial and neocolonial economic exploitation.
As for the two other “shithole” countries on Trump’s list – Syria and Yemen – they may most acutely represent just how degenerate this president is.
For continuing under his watch in the White House, American criminal military interventions in those countries have caused millions of people to be killed, maimed, starved and displaced. Syria, in particular, has been reduced from a fairly developed society to a pile of rubble by a six-year war instigated and perpetuated covertly by the US and its NATO and regional client regimes.
Yemen has been turned into an apocalyptic hell-hole from nearly three years of American-backed Saudi aggression against that country, including maintaining a sea, air and land blockade on the whole nation – a massive war crime – resulting in millions of children starving or dying from cholera and other preventable diseases. How could any country suffering a veritable genocide not be turned into anything but a “shithole”?
Mr Trump, are you listening or has your brain been turned into a pile of mush from the fast-food diet you gorge every day?
Considering the carnage that US foreign policy and conduct has inflicted around the world in pursuit of American imperialist interests, the Temporary Protected Status list should not comprise ten nations. It should be extended to dozens of – maybe 100 – countries that have borne the vandalism of American power.
Trump’s deprecation of “shithole” countries is a nauseating display of American ignorance and callousness. No wonder the US continues with its wrecking-ball behavior in the world.
As former Mexican President Vicente Fox alluded to in his outrage over Trump’s latest remarks, the biggest, foulest shit-hole in the world is in Washington. Because there they really do have shit for brains and morals.