An Argument for Seeing More of the World

We’ve spent a couple days now watching the president’s supporters defend him over this Haiti/Africa affair. There are three and a half main defenses.

There is the “everybody does it” defense. Senator Graham once said people come to the USA from “hellholes,” thus making the president’s words okay. There is the “In the year ____, Donald Trump did something nice for someone of color, so he can’t be so bad” defense. And then there is the “he was making an economic, not racist, argument” defense, when he said he preferred Norwegian to Haitian immigrants. Finally, there is the “it was regrettable, it was unfortunate, it is not helpful” non-condemnation, a half a defense.

Couple of things:

First, suppose Narendra Modi or Shinzo Abe or Emmanuel Macron had words about the USA similar to President Trump’s condemnation of an entire continent. I invite you imagine his or her subsequent reception in Washington. Anyone who believes this incident isn’t damaging to America’s reputation in the eyes of people all over the world needs to spend more time abroad.

And second, suppose, for whatever reason, this president eventually goes down in flames. When his defenders this weekend come knocking, looking for their own reputations back, they shouldn’t be surprised if nobody answers the door.

11 thoughts on “An Argument for Seeing More of the World

    • Dear Planet Lonely,

      I’ve been to countries I didn’t think much of, it’s true, and I can think of one in particular I just plain disliked. But I wouldn’t characterize them the way the president did for a couple of reasons.

      First, because words matter. As I tried to suggest in the post, rude characterizations may lead to angry, nationalist responses from some people, and there is no need for the leader of a country, President Trump in this case, to invite opprobrium, at least without provocation. Plus, we have ample angry nationalism just now.

      Second, it’s just disrespectful. While you’re congratulating yourself on your cutting-edge truthfulness, ask any ordinary poor Joe living in the distastefully-characterized country of your choice; he can’t help where he lives. He’s just trying to make a living. I think that deserves at least basic respect. And I think respect is in short supply here on these internets.

      Thanks for commenting. Now, what did you mean by “as usually happens?”


  1. Hi Bill. I’m not American but had high hopes when someone not from the political establishment took over that maybe it might freshen things up a bit for the better. Time will tell but over time, I’ve come to find this American circus less and less interesting and have come to the viewpoint that almost all of it is probably calculated action to deflect attention from whatever else is going on. He is nothing if not a master manipulator of the media who continue to give him coverage because it sells. For my part, I would like to see the rest of the world start to talk more and work more with each other and ignore this man who thinks himself leader. Perhaps one who is prone to aggression and bigotry is best ostracised. It amazes me how much noise is made about making America great again when, as with most countries, they have major problems at home but seem happy to preach about how bad everywhere else is…perhaps so people think it really is great at home…(Sigh)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Graham. There may be a hard core few here who believe things are great at home because President Trump talks about how bad other places are, but if so, they sure are easily persuaded. What you suggest, that we ought to ignore Trump, reminds me of the argument we hear after mass shootings – that the press should deny the shooter the attention he apparently craves, that they shouldn’t talk about him, maybe even not print his name. So far, that hasn’t much happened, and I suspect ignoring Trump isn’t much in the cards, at least among the media.

      Nothing saying individuals can’t do it, though, is there? Pick up a book, draw a picture, learn a language, or in your case, just step outside and gawk at the gorgeous scenery.

      Readers, Graham lives in one of the most beautiful spots on this earth – New Zealand. By all means go and check out his fine blog here:

      Thanks Graham. Cheers.


      • I love your idea there that we could all choose to use our time in more productive ways. I stopped using Facebook for that reason and wrote a book instead with at least some of that time. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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