By Sophia Goodwin-Rice
A year after President Trump’s inauguration, it’s hard to imagine what could make things worse. The United States has recently made quite an impression in the global community, from exiting the Paris Climate Treaty to denying security to immigrant youths formerly protected by DACA, directly affecting thousands of people and overall straying further from progress. It’s hard to know what to expect next, or to even imagine how the country will look a year from now. However, keeping with his trends, President Trump recently found a new way to send unwelcome messages to the rest of the world: blatant racism.
“Why do we want all these people from ‘shithole’ countries coming here?” Trump asked his lawmakers on January 11th. By ‘shithole,’ the president was referring to nations that would not fall into the category of ‘first world’ – places like Haiti, which has been ripped apart by both natural disasters and poverty, and countries in Africa where genocide has raged for decades. However, the president offered a solution to the immigration issue: why not bring in more people from countries like Norway?
While it’s true that nations such as Haiti may not be as clean and governmentally functional as Scandinavia, it’s clear that this isn’t the only distinction the president was going for. For the most part, people who come from those ‘shithole’ countries will not be white, while Norway is well known as one of the demographically whitest nations in the world. This truly begs the question: if Haiti continued to be an impoverished state but with white inhabitants, how would President Trump react to its citizens emigrating to the United States? It seems that the intention of his comment wasn’t that the countries themselves were in bad conditions; if that were true, you would think a business mogul like Trump would jump to advertise to its citizens to move to the United States for a better, cleaner experience. Instead, by adding Norway as an alternative, the racism in his statement is so thinly veiled that it’s practically transparent. Even the mass media has recognized the true danger behind these remarks; CNN anchor Don Lemon opened his show later that night by stating, “The president of the United States is a racist.” It’s exactly that the world doesn’t need right now: as immigrants from all over the world are forced to leave their homes and look for relocation, one of the wealthiest and safest possible homes of refuge is saying that it doesn’t want them.
What Trump doesn’t understand, though, is that the United States could not and should not function as a white-only society. With ideas of healthy, white and rich individuals living by a forceful capitalist system, it almost seems like he’s describing some sort of white Disneyland, or perhaps a mega version of a Trump estate. It’s a mantra repeated over and over again, yet it still hasn’t reached the White House’s ears: non-native citizens and their descendants are the only reason the United States works as it does, from the vast agricultural industry to the thousands of mass production factory workers living both here and abroad.
Similarly, Trump hasn’t seemed to grasp the idea that people don’t decide to emigrate to the United States just for fun. It’s not as if the nation is an elite club that everyone wants to get into, but only some can qualify for. Many people leave their home countries because they are, for lack of a better term, in the state of a ‘shithole.’ With bombs flying overhead, natural resources scarce, and no jobs to be found, relocation is mandatory for thousands of people and their families. Meanwhile, in the functional, socialist-leaning Norway, citizens most likely have no interest in moving to the United States. President Trump is trying to “make America great again”, and he thinks he’s succeeding, when in fact he’s just driving others away and denying those who need it the most.
While the president spends his time making racist remarks (and then going off on confusing Twitter rambles afterwards), it’s important that the rest of the country recognizes the true nature of his speech before it’s too late. As the media catches on, rallies persist and the people choose not to blindly follow his lead, the president begins to lose his power over the people as a whole. After all, we must keep in mind a very similar situation 70 years ago, when a certain charismatic leader spoke out about keeping a certain country as white as possible. And that time, nobody stopped him.