In using reprehensible rhetoric to describe Haiti and African countries, Trump not only further erodes U.S. standing in the world, but possibly rattles the cages of African leaders to take action.
By Lotus Felix
Our modern global civilization is founded on human equality and racial indifference. Championing the universal new order is the United States, the supposed leader of the free world. Such enviable position among the comity of nations adorns its president as a global icon whose words come with such overwhelming power and symbolism. Thus it was shocking when the “shithole” comment trickled from Trump’s lips.
As a Nigerian living in Nigeria, there is no argument that African nations are quite behind Western nations in terms of economic and industrial development, but that doesn’t sentence them to ridicule. The “shithole” comment coming from the US president is one too bulky that it would still be noticed even if swept under the carpets. Such comments seem like the supposed leader of the free world is decorating racism to entirely new levels.
It may be easy to extend Trump another olive branch, but this would be an olive branch too many. This is not the first time Trump is using derogatory comments about Africa. There were previous statements when, according to two officials present during a conversation with Trump in the White House, that once they (Nigerians) had seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa. Such consistency in hurling such disparaging words at Africa looks to show a fountain of conviction gushing inside him that being born in Africa is imprisonment by fate.
The shithole comment in particular has triggered an inferno of criticism for Trump in the media. No doubt, such comments compromise the legitimacy of the United States as a global leader of freedom and unity. With a leader in the United States bent on building seclusive fortresses around an America that once thrived in the collaborative company of nations (powerful and weak), it is a big cause for concern.
The whole world is reeling from the ideological shakeup in the White House since Trump ascended the presidency. Deep American legacies and ideologies entrenched in the American belief are being flared by an uncaring Trump who is putting America last in his efforts to put America first. His campaign mantra use to be “let’s make America great again”. What happened to that?
Trump shamelessly panders to his base by conveniently leaving out that a large part of America’s strength is its global leadership. By making howling U-turns like pulling out of the Paris climate accord, declaring Jerusalem Israel’s capital and the later shithole comments, he is only neutering the standing of the United States in the world, rather than strengthening it. Many now doubt the political potency of the United States to lead the world and with every passing day, Trump seems to consolidate this sentiment.
Nigerians, and Africans in general, are divided in their reaction to the menace. Some see it as a flabbergasting degradation oozing a racial stench. To others, it is a commendable move from Trump not to hide the continent’s ugly failure under the cosmetics of diplomacy. Many see the shithole comments as a clarion call for African leadership to wake up from its slumber and put things right in the continent.
All the same, if Trump wanted to call the attention of African leaders to their underperformance, there were certainly better ways to do it than its infamous shithole bellow.