Posted on January 13, 2018

What, Exactly, is a “Shithole?”

John Gorman, JNS, January 12, 2018

Someone once said to me, “Mel Gibson is what would happen if you just took a regular guy off the street, say, a good-looking cop, and made him a movie star.”

(The definition of a “regular guy” being: one who thinks more like the masses than the elites, who scoffs at politically correct pieties, and who just blurts out whatever he’s thinking.)

You could say the same of Donald Trump: it’s as if America just decided to take a regular guy and make him President.

Yesterday, Donald Trump evidently asked lawmakers gathered at the White House to discuss immigration policy, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

He then suggested that we should encourage more immigration from places like Norway, whose prime minister he had met with on Wednesday.

This is vintage Trump: blunt-spoken and tactless, but honest. Calling other countries “shitholes” is hardly statesmanlike. (Though, it must be said, it was the Democrats who reported that Trump used that term in what he undoubtedly thought was a private meeting.)

Now, of course, all the usual suspects are sputtering with outrage.

But, does Trump have a point?

Trump made his comment when legislators were discussing extending special protections to immigrants from Haiti, el Salvador, and various African countries.

The Oxford dictionary defines “shithole” as:

An extremely dirty, shabby, or otherwise unpleasant place.

Can an entire country be characterized that way?

Haiti’s per capita GDP is $729 as of 2016, compared to the US’s $57,466.

Its infant mortality rate is 48.2 deaths per 1000 births, far higher than the US rate of 5.8.

Haiti’s literacy rate is 61%, compared to the 86% rate in the US.

In the 22 months following the end of the President Aristide era in 2004, the murder rate in Haiti reached 220 per 100,000 population, though it has since come down to closer to 60. In the US, it hovers roughly around 5.

These statistics seem to add up to a “shabby or otherwise unpleasant place.”

Not coincidentally, the average IQ in Haiti is 67, vs. 98 for the US.

And all of Haiti’s statistics are remarkably similar to those of the sub-Saharan African countries.

If you’re from a country like Haiti, with its near nonexistent welfare, of course you want to come to the United States. Likewise, you’d want to emigrate from Africa to Europe.

The principle seems to be, the more of a mess you’ve made of your own country, the more desperately you want to come here.

The question is, will it be good for the US to have people from such countries come here? Will a group of immigrants with an average IQ of 67 be more of a boon, or a burden?

Some feel we shouldn’t even be allowed to ask that question, that it’s beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse. But is it really unpatriotic to ask if a policy is in this country’s best interest?

Of course not; it’s self-destructive not to ask.

And it’s hard not to conclude that the only reason certain parties don’t want that question asked is because the answer is so obvious. Every immigrant who comes to this country makes this country a tiny bit more like the country he came from.

Donald Trump’s not about to win any prizes for diplomacy. But by the standards of Western leaders, he’s quite commonsensical about immigration.