Shithole countries

How wrong was Trump?

I’m half Pakistanis & half Iranian. While I have a patriotic love for my origins; it’s hard to deny how disorganised Pakistan & Iran are (to varying degrees).

Obviously what Trump said was offensive however the fact that usually when a country has a diaspora, it means there’s something very wrong with it.

This is of course just my thoughts on the matter; it is offensive but how wrong is it? Is it offensive to tell the truth?

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14 thoughts on “Shithole countries”

  1. Agree with you – that particular bit of the comment was neither wrong nor should it be offensive. I believe the more offensive part of his comments was that he wanted immigrants from Norway instead – Norwegians neither immigrate to America in material terms nor were they historically a model minority or example of assimilation. Something that perhaps Asians are more likely to be. Therefore, the only motivation for such a comment was probably racist.

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    1. The motivation was that he was in Norway (or met with high level Norwegian officials, I forget) the day immediately prior to his remarks. Trump’s not the deepest thinker. Whoever talks to him last leaves a big impression.

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  2. Trump has a way of bringing the issues to the forefront by talking straight. Media is over reacting in analyzing the President’s comment which is not intentional to hurt any one. A large geographic region in South Asia fits that description literally if not metaphorically.

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  3. The fact that the President of the United States–the world’s sole superpower–can be so openly racist is something new. Trump consistently lowers the dignity of the office of the President. He referred to “shithole countries” like Africa (which is not a country but a continent) and Haiti. It seems his criteria for a place being a “shithole” is that the population there consists of non-whites. While I would agree with Zach that Pakistan is disorganized, I don’t think Trump was using disorganization as a criterion. These remarks just insult all those Americans (like my family) who immigrated legally to the United States and contributed to the society.

    Trump seems to have an ethnic sense of the US as being a “white” nation. This is not the way that the US thinks of itself. It is a country supposed to be open to all who can contribute to it and who believe in the values of the Constitution. Trump’s base on the other hand probably agrees with him that there are too many minorities and they are somehow “taking over”.

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    1. Kabir, I consider Botswana to be a successful, functional meritocratic country. Morocco too. Tunisia might become another example in the future. My hope is that these positive examples inspire the rest of Africa to reach for the stars.

      Can I ask you a question? Why is Haiti so dysfunctional? They have been independent since 1803 AD and received extraordinarily vast amounts of international aid for generations. What can the international community do to facilitate increased Haitian capacity and competence? And perhaps a long term very gradual pathway to self reliance?

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      1. AnAn,

        I am not that familiar with the specific case of Haiti, so I can’t speak to your question. My point was broader. Trump dismissed entire countries and entire parts of the world. Isn’t it possible that many people from those countries are perfectly capable of contributing to US society? Comments such as his are insulting to those of us who are American citizens with diverse origins. When the US was handing out greencards to doctors, they didn’t care that Pakistan was a “shithole country”. Trump probably thinks that India is a “shithole” as well. This kind of racism is new to the White House (or at least the fact that it is so open is).

        The larger debate is about whether the US is a “white” country or one that is open to all those who believe in its ideals. I guess we know which side the president is on.

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        1. From what I understand, President Trump likes and has a high opinion of Indians and most Asians. Trump’s critique of Asia is that Asians are too smart and are “killing us” in trade, business and economics. Maybe saving too much, becoming too rich, and buying too many American assets. In other words Trump at worst is jealous of Asian success and power. Why should Asians be offended by that? Trump appears to support skilled immigration from Asia.

          This said, Trump might view some African countries and El Salvador as dysfunctional, if press reports are partly accurate, which they may not be

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        2. The larger debate is about whether the US is a “white” country or one that is open to all those who believe in its ideals.

          I thought America didn’t have any ideals other than money.

          Isn’t it possible that many people from those countries are perfectly capable of contributing to US society?

          The law of diminishing returns hits some sooner, some later.

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          1. America’s ideals are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as articulated in the Declaration of Independence. The American Dream is that anyone can come from anywhere and make something of him or herself, through his or her own hard work. That is the theory at least. The reality is different. But these ideals are what have drawn immigrants from all over the world to the US.

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          2. life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

            Nobody believes a politician when he is alive. Everybody believes a politician when he is dead. It is a tragedy that you were brought to America because growing up in Pakistan might have given you a more cynical view of life.

            John von Neumann was the smartest man who ever lived. Unlike a lot of mathematicians in the 1920s he did not think the Soviet Union was a good thing. When the Nazis came to power he warned everybody to get the hell out of Germany. “No, the Nazis can’t be all that bad, Germany is the most cultured country of Europe” — “That is what they used to say about Athens before the Melian dialogue.” But he liked America. Why? Because he thought they had the honesty to admit that money is what mattered in life.

            Obviously, that was a different America.

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  4. Couple things:

    1) These are private comments. We don’t know for sure what they were or their context. As a result I feel uncomfortable commenting on this. Let us assume for the moment that the press reports are partly accurate (they might not be).
    2) There is never any edge to bad manners. We don’t have to say what others want us to say; but we can say what we want to say agreeably. In general, “shithole” conveys nothing that couldn’t be conveyed by “disorganized”, “poor” or “dysfunctional”. Even in private, there is no edge to at least using these phrases.
    3) The comment might be addressed to the systems of countries rather than to the people who live in those countries.
    4) Pretty sure Trump was not talking about Asia (outside of maybe Palestine and Syria) or successful Latin American countries such as Peru, Chile, Brazil.
    5) I don’t think Trump was referring to race or religion per say with this comment, rather countries he thought might be dysfunctional.
    6) The right response to this is not to be offended, but seize this opportunity to explain to the world the value of immigration from dysfunctional countries. My attempt is below:

    Dysfunctional countries often have extraordinarily capable, competent, intelligent people operating
    far below their potential because of the dysfunctional systems and company in their home country. When you bring them to meritocratic functional countries (OECD countries, including America, Australasia, Europe, Chile, Botswana and much of Asia), they usually perform like a charm; far beyond their employer’s, customer’s or their own expectations. This is why there is a large edge to trying to attract talented immigrants to successful countries. Long live brain drain!!! Increasing immigration from dysfunctional countries increases total factor productivity, labor productivity and capital productivity in functional meritocratic countries.

    I think America needs to do a much better job attracting immigrants from dysfunctional countries. Ditto with Russia, Eastern Europe, UK, Ireland, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile, Peru, Panama, Botswana, Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco etc.

    In particular India needs to do a much better job attracting talented immigrants; and facilitating foreigners becoming patriotic citizens of India. Current Indian policy is deeply against India’s national interests. Hundreds of thousands of foreigners would love to become patriotic Indian citizens for spiritual, cultural, linguistic and economic reasons; but can’t because of Indian policy. If India changed policy a tidal wave of Europeans, North Americans, Latin Americans and other Asians would become Indian citizens, enhancing the greatness and beauty of Bharat. I think this policy should extend to Pakistani minorities who feel deep love and affection for India. These Pakistanis would finally have freedom of speech and be able to participate in dialogue with Islamist extremists with partial safety. Protecting freedom of speech and dialogue will end the vast majority of Islamist extremism.

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