Donald Trump is a New York City real estate developer getting OJT as he conducts international affairs. He asked some experienced politicians why people from Haiti and Africa are desperate to emigrate North and why the US should let them in. Disapproval erupted when the media learned he had used the term “shithole countries.” Focus was on his crude language; the crucial questions he posed were ignored.
We’re here to help, Mr. President: People are fleeing lands that “we” —the United States and European powers— have robbed of their natural resources and where “we” have installed corrupt regimes that keep the great majority impoverished and terrorized. In a few rare instances, like the cholera epidemic in Haiti, “we” took some responsibility for the mass suffering.
The very day that The New York Times front-page headline decried Trump’s “vulgar terms,” there was a story on page A-8 about China’s decision to stop recycling waste from the US and other Western nations. The Times reporter did not use the vernacular word shit to describe what is piling up in London. She wrote:
“Similar backups have been reported in Canada, Ireland, Germany and several other European nations, while tons of rubbish is piling up in port cities like Hong Kong.
“Steve Frank, of Pioneer Recycling in Oregon, owns two plants that collect and sort 220,000 tons of recyclable materials each year. A majority of it was until recently exported to China.
“China’s ban, Mr. Frank said, has caused ‘a major upset of the flow of global recyclables.’ Now, he said, he is hoping to export waste to countries like Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Malaysia…
In other words, the rich countries of the world have been using the poor countries —mainly China— for waste disposal all these years. Trump’s choice of words was figuratively true, and pithy.
The Times headline, on the other hand, was whimsical: “Wondering Where to Put All the Rubbish China Now Rejects.” If they had gone with “China Nixes Shithole Status” maybe they wouldn’t be failing. Sad.
China is conducting a campaign against “yang laji” (“foreign garbage”).