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On shitholes, pottymouths, and missionary cities

[The American Vision] …
On shitholes, pottymouths, and missionary cities |

According to a Newsbusters report linked by Drudge Report, CNN used the word “shithole” 195 in one day after Trump reportedly called certain African countries and Haiti by that appellative in a meeting.

After the allegation, made by a Democrat aid, Trump himself vehemently denied saying such a thing . . . about Haiti, that is. Multiple other witnesses, all Democrats, confirmed that he did say it about African countries, and that Haiti was simply implied along with the rest.

The Republican attendees who have since been interviewed have followed the immortal example of Oliver North: they do not recall.

What followed Trump’s alleged usage, however, was not only CNN’s trumpeting of it, but the taking of occasion by virtually every person from every background from every angle to sound off on the matter.

Many made sure to point out, complete with pictures of trash-lined streets, etc., that, hey, these countries are in fact shitholes. Just look at them!

Some posts were circulated from people who were originally from African nations, or from Haiti, themselves admitting, yeah my home nation is a shithole. Most of these were probably sincere opinions offered by sincere individuals, but some were opportunistic tokenism, and most were clearly used as such by conservatives who shared them.

Many liberals were so oblivious that they could not stop focusing on attacking the person of Trump and repeating the word “racism.” Witness CNN.

This is proof, of course, that Trump has their number. They could be handed the most golden policy or issue opportunity in twenty years, but they hate Trump himself so much that a single word or tweet can keep them distracted longer than the news cycle, of which they think they’re in control, will last for them. A Trump tweet to a liberal newscaster is a like a laser pointer to a cat. Think of the fun you could have if you were president!

More people were distracted in the debate over Trump himself, or the use of a curse word in such a vulgar, despicable way, than really seemed to give much reflection on the substance.

For what it’s worth, here are a couple of thoughts:

First, a few pictures of trash lined streets can be found anywhere. The ugly pictures shown of Haiti or African nations could just as easily have come from Detroit, New York, London, Paris, or Barcelona, or from rural West Virginia, Arkansas, or countless other places not designated “shithole.”

On the flip side of this, beautiful pictures can be found in all these places, including Africa and Haiti. The standard of judging nations in Scripture is far different than a few snapshots. It is ethical. More on that in a minute. In short, conservatives who are using snapshots and memes like this to support Trump are engaging in dishonesty. Stop acting like the liberals you say you despise.

Second, the issue in all of these sadly depressed areas is poverty. Everyone, of course, speaks routinely of “third world” countries. What makes them third world? Poverty. The fact that they are developing, not developed. This has many causes, not the least of which is corruption and ethics. Earnest essays on this larger issue would of course be welcomed. Haven’t seen many in all of this.

Third, the real furor should not be centered on whether or not certain countries meet such a description, or whether people think they do, but on the actual point of the statement—that we should not want immigrants from such countries coming here. This is getting closer to the real heart of the debate. It’s why for example so many anti-immigration conservatives knee-jerk jumped to defend the president’s comments, even using fallacious memes.

How in the world can you expect to have an “exceptional” nation, a city on a hill, and not expect it to have any mission to the world? Why should we not expect, and welcome, all nations to stream unto it, a la Isaiah 2, if we were even a small part of what that prophecy offers?

Why would a city-on-a-hill nation suddenly quit its own published call to “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore”? Have we nothing to offer these immigrants? Do we fear, suddenly, that they will affect us, lower us, devalue us, denigrate us in some way? Are we so weak? This is not the American way, nor is it the biblical way.

Keep in mind, this is not about terrorism or radical Islamic immigrants. This is about immigrants from impoverished nations in general. Why would we not desire to bring them in, feed them, train them, and develop the image of God in each of them to the highest level possible? If we embrace that mission, as we once did, we can help such immigrants, and they can in turn either stay here and enrich our nation, or they can return as powerful missionaries back to their own, and help fix the messes that are there?

In short, where is our missionary heart? What are we afraid of?

Finally, we’ve let the memes of trash-lined streets and filthy tent-shack ghettos distract us from the forms that a real political, national shithole may take: socialism, government tyranny, and abortion. Think about that when Trump calls for importing more Norwegians. Think universal health care. Think nationalized education. Think European-style social Democracy. Think state-funded abortions provided in hospitals.

I’ll bet that such hygienic and well-educated immigrants would have, if they had the chance, voted for Bernie or Hillary over any conservative. How many of these would you like?

Our name-calling and cursing is misplaced. It ought to be reserved for our own socialistic foibles institutions first—our own sins and failures first. In fact, maybe that’s what lurks in us: finding outward ways to make us feel better: generalizing poor countries by the worst pics we can find, and calling them shitholes, so we can distract from our own whitewashed tombs.

What nation, after all, killing 3 million of its own children per year deserves any better description? You could say that applies only to the half or so that explicitly wants it legal; the conservatives who are “pro-life” should not have to bear such opprobrium, right? Except, the vast majority of them cannot bring themselves even to call it murder, and through an abundance of stalling tactics, pointless alleged “increments,” and pessimism in the face of an allegedly all-powerful Supreme Court, it has become a cause good for nothing more than raising votes for compromised Republicans, and raising funds for the cause of raising votes for compromised Republicans. Shithole, it is.

In the end, I am far less worried if the president has a potty mouth (have we not known this?) than that people flying either to condemn him or to support him uncritically cannot, or do not, focus on what really matters. We seem to have very little real confidence to be a city on a hill anymore, and we have very little confident missionary spirit. And in our malaise, we find it so easy to distract ourselves from our own institutional cesspools by pointing to pics of third world mud.

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 if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.


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