Americans - at least some - are in denial. Denial is defined as one’s failure to acknowledge an unacceptable truth or emotion or to admit it into consciousness. It is a defence mechanism and some Americans - maybe as many as 65 million - are somewhere along the denial spectrum.
A few Americans - all Republican lawmakers - suffer something much worse than denial. You see, almost three weeks ago they witnessed President Donald Trump’s moral depravity in the Oval Office first hand…chose to ignore it…and then lied about it.
The president of the United States questioned why America should accept immigrants from African nations because they are “S***hole countries,” he explained. Trump added that Haitians all have AIDS…and further questioned, “Why do we need more Haitians?”
Bad enough, right? No, Trump volunteered that once Nigerians saw America, “they’d never go back to their huts.” By the way, 37 percent of Nigerian Americans hold Master’s Degrees…another 18 percent hold Bachelor’s Degrees, and four percent hold Doctorate Degrees, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Twenty-three people were in the Oval Office that afternoon…an intimate space that has great acoustics. But Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas, David Perdue of Georgia, House of Representatives Members Robert Goodlatte of Virginia, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California all said they didn’t recall hearing Trump say any such thing.
And in true Trump-fashion, Senators Cotton and Perdue double-downed a couple days after saying they didn’t recall such a comment by Trump…swearing that Trump definitely didn’t say it…and that those who said otherwise…well, they were liars.
These men - and sadly most are from the Old South - were in that meeting…and they heard what was said. Only two of the 23 countered the president’s outrageous comments. Trump’s top aides and Republican elected officials who represent millions of Americans were stricken mysteriously with a sudden inability to hear. No outrage. No looks of horror. Nothing.
The “Defenders of Trump” - an unofficial group that requires no intelligence test for membership - instead leapt to his defence in the media. Critics mis-heard the president, they claimed. He said, “S***house,” not “S***hole,” they proudly announced. Hmmmmm…can anyone be that stupid? Yes, apparently so.
However, there were some good, old-fashioned Americans present. The two who spoke up were from different parties…one a Conservative Republican…the other a Liberal Democrat. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina (I’m glad he’s a Southerner…not all of us live up to the remember-the-good-ole-days-of-slavery stereotype) was there and he let President Trump know he wasn’t pleased. He did so in front of others during the meeting. Democrat Senator, Dick Durban, the Minority Whip from Illinois, did the right thing, as well, criticizing the president for his recklessly racist words as soon as he left the Oval Office.
And those deep, deep in denial, deflected another of Trump‘s comments during the meeting, when he proclaimed out loud “we should have more immigrants from Norway!” This followed his concern about more colourful immigrants from Haiti, Salvador and African nations.
It turns out - and don’t think for a moment that the incurious president knew then or even knows now - that between 1870 and 1910, one-fourth of Norway’s working-age population immigrated to America. Norway was a hopelessly poor nation then…wages were one-third that of the U.S.
Trump and his advisors should note that immigration helped both the U.S. and Norway. Wages rose in Norway to equal the U.S. by 1912, and today it is one of the most prosperous nations in the world. I wonder what “S***hole” or “S***house” nations in Africa might replicate this marvellous transformation today?
It is a shame that those in the United States who allegedly govern choose to look the other way so often on matters that define morality. If you support your ideology so strongly that compromise is never a reasonable choice, you prostitute yourself. Most of the 23 people who witnessed President Trump’s racist remarks on immigration chose…and chose poorly. So, while some of them might not be racists themselves, they were more than willing to overlook the president’s racism…all to protect their sacred ideology.
The Far Right Wing…represented by Senators Cotton and Perdue and by White House Aide and Senior Foreign Policy Adviser Stephen Miller…rushed in to the Oval Office on Thursday, Jan. 11 before the gathering to change President Trump’s mind. He had a deal that morning…a compromise…but the racist wing of the Republican Party wouldn’t hear of it. And as everyone knows, they were the last to have Trump’s ear that hour…and that’s how Trump’s infamous racist comments came about. And that’s why the government closed…something that could happen again as early as Feb. 8 when funding runs out again.
And isn’t it curious that now is the time for a so-called merit-based immigration policy, according to the Far Right. That wasn’t the case when Italian, Irish, Polish, Scandinavian, Russian, German…you know, mostly white immigrants came to America. Those were mostly uneducated folks…and yet, they contributed mightily to the fabric of America.
Meanwhile, every day 123 more American children - that’s what you call babies born and raised on American soil - are subject to deportation because the United States has no Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) bill…and still no reasonable immigration policy. Speaker of the House Mitch McConnell promised to bring up DACA for a vote in February. We’ll see…my guess is his pledge will be long forgotten in a government so toxic that every week…every day…brings a new crisis.
Americans would do well to look North. No, here in Canada everything is not perfect.
But it has become the better true democracy of the two nations…with immigration solutions that aren’t based on fear mongering.
Instead, too many Americans - whose country was built largely on the backs of immigrants and slaves - hear lies…and accept them as truths. They are told that unless there is a wall on the Mexican border, more murderers, rapists and drug dealers will come to America. No American wants an unsafe border. But centuries ago, the Great Wall of China didn’t work…and the Great Wall of Trump won’t make America safer either.
The truths are…both legal and illegal immigrants are less likely to be criminals than what some Right Wing nuts call “real Americans.” The truth is immigrants are an overwhelmingly positive force in a democracy.
Yes, denial is terrible. It leads you to reject facts and accept lies that fit your ideology and your prejudices. And the result is a stench…a stain that is difficult to get out of the fabric of America. Indeed, it’s almost as if you live in a “S***hole,” or alternatively, a “S***house.”
– Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines. His essays are a blend of news reporting and opinion.
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