President Donal’s Trump’s reported remarks, made very recently when, we are told, he was wondering aloud about why America accepts immigrants from some “shithole countries” appears to have caused consternation around the world.
Notwithstanding anyone’s views on the merits of his views, there are two important factors to consider, I think:
- Number 1, an acquaintance, of a distinctly libertarian bent, asks why was there nary a peep when Presidents Clinton and Obama bombed failing and failed states but there is outrage when President Trump uses a bad word to describe them? and
- Number 2, some observers opine that this remark, just because of its very crudeness, will be highly popular with the Trump base. He will be seen, simply, as “telling it like it is,” and his popularity will soar … just as it did when he took on millionaire National Football League players who refused to stand for the national anthem.
Regarding the first point: let’s admit it, there is a double standard where President Trump is concerned. Many of those who don’t like him ~ and I’m in that large group ~ are unwilling to forgive him anything. But many of those same people were willing to forgive progressive leaders for doing much worse than just calling Haiti a “shithole.”
To be fair, most Americans, the ones that I’ve met, anyway, are not racists; but as I have suggested, ever since he was elected, many, many Americans are afraid of what is happening to their country, to their communities, to their neighbourhoods … it is not a well focused fear but that doesn’t matter, it is a real fear and President Trump seems to share it or, at least, he is able to understand it and to persuade people that he will protect them. I’m pretty certain that a lot of Canadians share those fears: the liberal elites in America and the Laurentian Elites in Canada told us that immigration from non-traditional sources and the resultant multi-cultural “post national” society are good for us … and, by and large, they are right, but there are real problems with our (Canada’s and America’s) immigration and, morse troubling, refugee programmes and it is not racist to talk about them. The problems have nothing to do with race or creed … our (and America’s) “systems” are commendably colour blind. Most problems are caused by cultures and some people, both immigrants and natives, have difficulty in accepting that their cherished cultural norms and values are not shared by all. That, adapting, has been with us for centuries and that’s why we have “Cabbagetown” and China town,” “Germantown” and “Little Italy” and so on. But now the people who first settled Cabbagetown and Germantown are frightened by some of the changes they see coming, and it’s not entirely a problem of multiculturalism, it is also combined with a changing economy ~ the old, comfortable, “metal basing” economy of the 1950s and ’60s is gone, replaced by a service economy that no longer rewards a strong back and a good work ethic. Suddenly, in seems, immigrant kids with oddly shaped eyes and names that are difficult to pronounce are taking all the good jobs because their parents put greater emphasis on education than on sports and “fun.”
President Trump seems to, instinctively, understand that inchoate fear and he gives it a voice … a voice that I suspect carries across our shared border. I don’t think much of President Trumps politics or policies or, as far as I can understand them, beliefs or prejudices or whatever they are, but I think many tens of millions of Americans and few million Canadians understand them and share them and I believe that politicians who do not understand them or who pretend to not understand them will lose out.
Understanding the Trumpian, fear based worries does not mean sharing them. In fact it may mean, especially for Canadian Conservatives, repudiating them and those who do share them.