I have never seen or heard the word “shithole” more in my life than I have since January 11. Not only was that the day I turned 61, but it was also the day that Rump — in a marvelous prelude to Martin Luther King Day — employed the word to describe Haiti, El Salvador, and Africa. Writing for the Washington Post, Josh Dawsey described the scene: “President Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they discussed protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to several people briefed on the meeting. ‘Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?,’ Trump said, according to these people, referring to countries mentioned by the lawmakers. Trump then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries such as Norway, whose prime minister he met with Wednesday. The president, according to a White House official, also suggested he would be open to more immigrants from Asian countries because he felt that they help the United States economically.”
Since then, there has been a steady shitstorm of shitholes from which it has been impossible to escape. The New York Times, being the paper of record and all, was obliged to print the word as a matter of historical fact. What was striking was the sheer number of times it appeared in the paper. The Times’ stated policy is to use a questionable word once in the beginning of the article and then, in subsequent references, replace certain key letters with asterisks or dashes in a nod to good taste. Well, apparently when the president of the United States uses the word “shithole” to describe other sovereign nations, that policy gets thrown out the window.
As far as Rump’s mentioning Norway in the context of being a non-shithole nation is concerned, many people — reporters and columnists for newspapers, all of Twitterdom — couldn’t help but notice that Norwegians tend to be very blonde and very white, while the citizens of Haiti and Africa tend to be rather darker. (Asked at a Senate hearing whether Norway is a predominantly white country, the secretary of Homeland Security responded, “I actually do not know that, sir, but I imagine that is the case.” And her name is Kirstjen Nielsen!)
This observation led to a number of truly ridiculous conversations and “think pieces” that ask whether or not Rump is a racist. I say, if it has the shithole of a duck….
Isobel Thompson, writing for vanityfair.com, summarized the racism angle this way: ”Following days of international condemnation, Donald Trump announced on Sunday that he is ‘not a racist’ and denied that he had used the word ‘shithole’ to describe African nations during an Oval office meeting on immigration last week. ‘I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed, that I can tell you,’ he told reporters as he arrived at Trump International Golf Club in what has become a characteristic use of superlatives (in 2015 Trump argued that he was ‘probably the least racist person on earth,’ and at a White House a news conference last year he professed to be ‘the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.’)”
Could this whole thing become even more farcical? Of course it could! Enter Ivana!
From HuffPost’s Willa Frej: “Ivana Trump on Monday denied her ex-husband is racist after he reportedly called Haiti and African nations ‘shithole countries.’ ‘I don’t think Donald is racist at all,’ the president’s first wife told ‘Good Morning Britain.’ ‘Sometimes he says these things which are silly, or he doesn’t really mean them.... But he’s definitely not racist, I’m sure of that.’”
Meanwhile, the story of Rump’s whores came and went without generating any outrage at all. Michelle Goldberg of the Times writes, “On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that, a month before the 2016 election, Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen arranged a $130,000 payout to the porn star Stephanie Clifford, known by the stage name Stormy Daniels, to stop her from discussing a 2006 dalliance with Trump. The New York Times added new details. The Daily Beast then reported that another porn actress, Jessica Drake, who had accused Trump of offering her $10,000 for sex, signed a nondisclosure agreement barring her from talking about the president. In any other administration, evidence that the president paid hush money to the star of ‘Good Will Humping’ during the election would be a scandal. In this one it has, so far, elicited a collective shrug… If it turns out there were payoffs to hide non-consensual behavior, there may be an uproar. But sleeping with a porn star while your wife has a new baby, then paying the porn star to be quiet? That’s what everyone expects of this president.” So Rump fucked a couple of whores. Ho hum. Goldberg is right — it’s what we have all come to expect.
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