How they see us: World condemns Trump as ‘racist’
World leaders have rarely been so disgusted by a U.S. president, said Harriet Alexander in The Daily Telegraph (U.K.). The denunciations came thick and fast after it was reported that President Donald Trump had fumed during a meeting with lawmakers that America was accepting too many immigrants from “shithole” places like Haiti, El Salvador, and Africa, and not enough from overwhelmingly white Norway. A group of 54 African nations issued a statement saying it was “extremely appalled at, and strongly condemns, the outrageous, racist, and xenophobic remarks.” The government of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse said it was “deeply shocked” by the president’s “abhorrent and obnoxious” comments. And the United Nations’ human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville, said there was no other way to describe Trump’s remarks “but racist.” All these condemnations amount to “an extraordinary rebuke” of a U.S. leader.
Someone needs to tell Trump it’s partly because of U.S. policy that Haiti is so poor, said Alin Louis Hall in Le Nouvelliste (Haiti). Founded by slaves who rebelled against their French colonial masters at the turn of the 1800s, Haiti was later forced to pay an independence debt of 150 million gold francs to France—a sum worth more than $20 billion today. Some of that massive debt was acquired by U.S. banks, and when America’s interests in Haiti were threatened in 1915, the U.S. invaded. The main objective of the 19-year-long American occupation that followed “was to cement structures for American financial control” over the country. Haiti suffers to this day.
Trump is undeniably a racist, said South African writer Sisonke Msimang in AlJazeera.com, but that shouldn’t blind us to “the truth that lies at the heart of his statements.” Millions of desperately poor people in the developing world do want to migrate to the U.S. and escape their “pretty shitty” lives. Middle-class Africans and well-meaning Westerners have tried to counter Trump’s slurs by posting beautiful photos of African landscapes on Facebook and tweeting the number of American lives saved by African immigrant doctors. But glossing over the truth “in the interest of point scoring” does nothing to help impoverished people “in the ghettoes of Port-au-Prince and Nairobi.”
Some 200 years ago, Norwegians flocked to the U.S. to “escape a shithole of their own,” said Aftenposten (Norway) in an editorial. For several decades, starting in the 1820s, fully one-third of Norway’s population left to start new lives in America. These “poor, toothless fishermen and peasants” did not assimilate as fast as Swedes or Irish. But today their descendants are part of the American fabric. Now, thanks partly to oil, Norway is rich, has the world’s happiest population, and scores higher than the U.S. on measures of education, health care, and good governance. Last year, only 502 Norwegians emigrated to the U.S., and for good reason: “Compared with Norway, the U.S. is a shithole.” ■