Apropos of Shithole Countries 4/4

Let’s Take a Perspective Look at the Model

It has been 10 years since then-president Donald Trump made his despective remarks about “shithole countries” that raised such a brouhaha at home and abroad. According to the LA Times on the following day the offending words were:

“What do we want Haitians here for?” the president asked, according to the people briefed. “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? Why do we want all these people from shithole countries?” Then he added ludicrously, “We should have people from places like Norway.”

LA Times, Jan. 11, 2018

I think it’s time to deconstruct the declaration. ·What, exactly, is a shithole country? What are its salient characteristics? How do we identify it? What, if anything, can we learn from the former president’s declaration? What do the shithole countries tend to have in common. Shall we make a list?

Getting a Grip on the Elusive Shithole

  • They tend to be run by a coterie of dishonest and ruthless politicos who serve at the behest of shadowy monied interests.
  • They skim so much wealth off the top of their country’s economy that there is virtually nothing left for basic services and infrastructures for the society at large.
  • They are run along military/police lines. These two sectors have carte blanche.
  • What little wealth generated is siphoned off by non-resident, usually foreign owners.
  • Their communication with their citizens have nothing to do with truth or utility, rather political expediency.
  • The court of last resort in most of these countries has little to do with the judiciary. It’s often the clandestine services.
  • Education–the key to true democracy–in these countries is disconsidered and underfinanced. Schools for the children of the masses of the population are left to crumble and teachers are underrated, under-equipped and underpaid. Think of the importance good teachers had in your own life. Where would you be without them? The sons and daughters of the ruling elite have the option to attend exclusive schools, abroad.
  • Firearms policies in the worst of these countries are notoriously lax or unenforced. Legally-armed crazies roam the streets unsettling and destabilizing the citizens, who find themselves perpetually on the wrong foot. “Will I make it safely home from work today. Will I be gunned down in my workplace? Will my children be safe at school? Will they make it home safely? Shall I buy them bullet-proof book bags?” The absurdity of the non-regulation of firearms reinforces the absurdity all the other potential dangers the government fails to regulate: rents, living wages, killer capitalism, and everything else designed to clog the prosperity funnel that drains wealth from the poor to the rich. The trickle-down theory is shithole economics.
  • Exaggerated levels of nationalism and a perverted “patriotism” permeate the worst of these societies from cradle to grave, and degrade its values. A noxious by-product of these is the default justification of heinous human-rights abuses in other people’s countries. The ultimate expression of this thinking is overweening, forever-war militarism.

    Besides being a plague on their neighbors, these countries show utter disregard for the rights and welfare of their own citizens, as if these were a burden on national resources, not the exact opposite: the very essence and reason-for-being of an honest and truly democratic government. The most egregious examples of this phenomenon are racial minorities, who are the brunt of the worst injustices that flawed countries can dish out, whether at home, in the streets on in the prisons.

Wait, There’s More

The usual trope of shithole countries is some sort of castrated, conditional so-called democracy with its hands tied by self-seeking politicos engendering democracy-crippling legislation like the Patriot Acts or high court decisions like Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.

A pervading climate of hate permeates all. The left hates the right, the right hates the left. The rich hate the poor and vice versa. The whites hate the blacks and everybody hates the Russians, who also happen to put their trousers on one leg at a time. In these militarized societies nobody seems to be able to distinguish between adversaries and enemies. To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Poverty is weaponized. A father or mother who is worrying about where their children’s next meal is coming from, or whether they’re going to be evicted at the end of the month, is in no condition to demand decent social services or a living wage. It is this impoverished lumpenproletariat (Source: Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto) that pays the price of justification of paupers’ conditions for the whole society. Without them the ruling thugs have no-one to point to as examples of just how sordid they can make your life.

Where to Apply These Damning Epithets

That’s up to you, dear reader. You are the jury and the judge.You must decide where to direct your hammer. But before you strike, permit me the luxury of citing a few words from the poet, Robert Burns. They’re archly familiar and seem to me to be particularly apt in this case:

O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us. To see oursels as ithers see us! 

Robert Burns


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