Anecdote of a recent conversation:
A: Where are you from?
B: A bad part of Kingston.
A: What part is that?
B: All of it.
Did Trump say “shithole”? It sounds like his typical bombast that enrages people who don’t like him. It also sets a trap for his political opponents by reframing the conversation. The questions whether we should favor immigrants from specific countries and with specific personal qualifications are back in play. Many voters think these questions are important despite the continuing efforts of establishment pols of both parties to stipulate them as beyond the pale. The attempt to conflate the characterizations of countries and of individuals is a rhetorical sleight of hand intended to dismiss doubts about mass-immigration by unskilled people from dysfunctional countries. Ann Althouse nailed this point. The doubts are reasonable — Wouldn’t the French and Germans have been better off heeding such concerns in the recent past? Shutting up people who express such thoughts may be more likely in the long run to lead to an immigration moratorium or other crude measures than to convince the doubters to acquiesce in the admission to the USA of more unvetted young Somali and Central American men.
What Trump was saying, as ordinary people will understand it, is obviously true: We should encourage immigration based on our country’s needs rather than on the needs of prospective immigrants; we should favor people who are likely to be highly productive; and we should attempt to screen out criminals, terrorists and people who are mainly interested in welfare-state subsidies.
There are many talented people in Haiti, but as a country Haiti is troubled and unproductive, which is why so many Haitians want to leave. Perhaps Mia Love is bound to criticize Trump based on Trump’s crudeness of expression and reported disrespectful words, but Trump is right. There were good reasons for Congresswoman Love’s family to leave Haiti for the USA. We are lucky to have them, but that’s not the same thing as saying that we should let in every Haitian who wants to come here. We should be more selective and we should reform our immigration bureaucracy to make things easier for the people we want.
We can expect additional inflammatory stories about Trump’s supposed racism and other character flaws while his negotiations with Congress on immigration continue.