No, there is no bottom, and we’ve got to stop diving for it. Dog whistles seem so ambivalent now that they’ve been replaced by bullhorns.
Fox News host Jesse Watters tells us that the “forgotten men and women of America” talk just the way the president does about non-Norwegians. You know, when he asked, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” – people from Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations.
Initially, the White House defended Donald Trump’s remarks without correcting anything. “Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries,” spokesman Raj Shah said, “but President Trump will always fight for the American people.” For some of them, anyway.
A day later, Trump disputed the wording but not the sentiment. Just as he’d disputed a previous report that he’d said Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS,” and that Nigerians who came here wouldn’t ever “go back to their huts.”
I would love to argue that Watters is mistaken when he says of the president’s s–hole slur that “this is how the forgotten men and women of America talk at the bar.” And insist that’s too base to play to the base. But I won’t, because too many of those supposedly forgotten folk have told me otherwise.
So have the approving headlines in Breitbart and beyond. After Trump said he preferred newcomers from places like Norway, the Drudge Report stood and saluted: “Trump Balks at ‘Shithole' Immigration Deal.”
Our last president consistently signaled that we were better than that, that “we’re more alike than we are different,” that divisions between red and blue America were exaggerated, if not manufactured. Now the presidential cues are just the opposite. They tell us we’re not better, not alike. Donald Trump doesn’t just wink at our worst angels but waves them on, urging “greatness” that’s in every way shriveled and feeding resentments that needed no encouragement.
Well, I refuse to go along, and refuse to be divided from either the “forgotten” with whom I disagree or the immigrants the president so disdains. His Oval Office s–fit last week blew apart a bipartisan deal that would have provided a permanent home for “Dreamers” who came here as children. It would have prioritized the border security that agents say they do need over the wall they don’t. It would have changed how citizens can sponsor relatives from elsewhere – chain migration, opponents call it – and how our visa lottery program works. The president exploded over the lottery’s inclusion of some African countries and over the temporary protected status of Salvadorans and Haitians.
In the deal he undid, Trump said, “Wall was not properly funded, Chain & Lottery were made worse and USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly” instead of “people who will help take our country to the next level.”
Immigrants, including the president’s own mother, the youngest of 10 in a remote fishing village off the Scottish mainland, have rarely come here because things were perfection back home. And Dreamers represent the best of us, having met high standards to qualify for that status. Nothing the president said came as the slightest surprise after his disgraceful comments about Mexicans, Muslims and white supremacists.
But some of those along for the ride do bewilder me, because I always admired the conservative pushback against “the coarsening of the culture.” If anything, I feel more that way than ever; in fact, this whole s–hole thing makes me never want to talk s–ever again.
But there aren’t a bunch of different possible answers to why so many of those who decried vulgar lyrics cheered when Trump said owners should tell any NFL player who kneels to “get that son-of-a-bitch out of here.”
No matter how well the economy does, that’s why I think Democrats are going to do well in this year’s election. Because maybe Obama was right that we are better than this.