Explaining Trump’s Shithole Racism To Buhari’s Nigerians

By Ikenga Chronicles January 13, 2018

Explaining Trump’s Shithole Racism To Buhari’s Nigerians

— Vitus Ozoke

For those of you who have attempted to use the sad state of Nigeria and, perhaps, a few other African countries, to justify and rationalize what is on its face the most grotesque and egregious case of bone-deep racism and xenophobia, the problem with your argument is that it fails to take into account a long historical background to Donald Trump’s racism.

Granted, if anybody else, if Barack Obama, had used those same derogatory slurs for Africa, it would not have provoked as much reaction and backlash. But here you have a man who all his life has not only expressed, but has also practiced, his racial animus against Black people and anybody who does not look like him. Here you have a man who would discriminate against Black people in housing and renting. He would not rent to Black people and would mark a ‘C’ for colored on any nonwhite housing application. He was severally sued for it, and severally found to have done so by the courts, and ordered to pay damages.

So, there is a history here. It is that history that those of us on this side of the argument are looking at. His shithole shenanigan is not an isolated behavior. But even for argument sake, even assuming that this is a one-off isolated behavior, the comment is still a textbook definition of racism. Notice that he didn’t just voice his hatred for Haitians, Salvadorans, and Africans, whom he called shithole countries, Donald Trump in that same meeting expressed his preference for white European immigrants. He stated that America should be accepting immigration only from countries like Norway, not Black shithole countries.

But besides saying that Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations are “shithole countries,” Trump also recently said in a closed-door meeting about immigration that all Haitians “have AIDS” and that once Nigerians saw the U.S. they would never “go back to their huts.” (forgetting that Nigerian immigrants are, in fact, the most educated group in the U.S., surpassing white and Asian people.)

About Black people, according to the 1991 book, “Trumped”, Donald Trump said that Black people were inherently lazy and that he disliked having accountants who were Black. “Black guys counting my money! I hate it,” Trump said. “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes everyday.” He went on, “I think that the guy is lazy, and it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in Blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not something they can control.”

What about the Central Park Five? After four Black teenagers and a Latino teen were charged with the brutal rape and beating of a woman in 1989, Trump took a full-page ad in four newspapers calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty. The teens, known as the Central Park Five, were exonerated in 2002 after a convicted murderer and rapist confessed to the crime. The man’s confession was corroborated through DNA evidence, and the authorities never found forensic evidence that connected the Central Park Five to the rape.

But even after it was proven that the men were innocent, throughout the years Trump has continued to say they’re guilty. And as recent as October 2016, Trump still believes the Central Park Five are guilty, even though the men have been exonerated by the legal system.

What about Native Americans? In 1993, Trump testified at a hearing held by the House Native American Affairs subcommittee, which at the time was investigating organized crime in Native American casinos. Without offering proof, Trump told lawmakers it was “obvious” that the Mafia had infiltrated the casinos. “They don’t look like Indians to me,” he said. “They don’t look like Indians to Indians.” And during the 2016 presidential campaign, and now as president, Trump has called Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” as a way to mock her claim of Native American heritage. Native Americans have said the term is derogatory over and over again, but that hasn’t stopped Donald Trump from using it, even in front of Navajo veterans last November.

Don’t forget his hatred for Muslims. In late 2015, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Trump also insulted a Muslim Gold Star family in 2016. Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim Army captain, was killed in Iraq in 2004. His parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan appeared at the Democratic National Convention, where Khizr gave a speech in which he said Trump had never sacrificed anything and offered to lend the then-candidate his pocket-sized version of the U.S. Constitution.

Trump criticized them and said Khizr delivered the speech because Ghazala wasn’t “allowed” to speak. “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably — maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say, you tell me,” Trump said to ABC News. Ghazala Khan wrote in an op-ed that her husband asked whether she wanted to speak at the convention, but she chose not to because it was too upsetting.

Of course, his hatred for President Obama. For five years, Donald Trump was the most vocal supporter of a conspiracy theory falsely claiming that President Obama was not born in the United States — even after the White House released Obama’s birth certificate proving he was indeed born in Hawaii. It took until September 2016 for him to disavow the theory. However, since then he has questioned once again the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate in private conversations. Also, he doubted that Obama went to Harvard, demanding that Obama release his transcripts. That Obama was the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review was of no consequence to Donald Trump.

And how can anyone forget how Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign in 2015? His speech, where he decried Mexicans as rapists, caused instant outrage. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he said, before adding, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

In 2016, Trump attacked Gonzalo Curiel, a federal judge from Indiana born to Mexican parents who presided over two Trump University lawsuits. Trump said Curiel should recuse himself from the trial, because he was biased. “He’s a Mexican,” he said. “We’re building a wall between here and Mexico.” Even House Speaker Paul Ryan called the remarks against Curiel a “textbook definition of a racist comment.”

What about Donald Trump’s shameful display of racism in the aftermath of the August 11 and 12 violence in Charlottesville, Virginia that took the life of one and injured dozens of others? A man who would not condemn a David Duke KKK neo-Nazi white supremacist violence, choosing instead to draw silly moral equivalency and spread blames on both sides. So, there is a history here.

I can understand the politics of your argument because I know your politics. All of you, Nigerians, who have attempted to justify and rationalize Donald Trump’s blatant racism in calling the African continent shithole countries, are anti-Buharists. You hate Buhari, and you see Trump’s racist attack as a jab on the Buhari government and its dismal performance. It is the classic enemy of my enemy is my friend. That’s ok, I have no major problem with that kind of attitude. You are entitled to dislike Buhari. I’m not sure I like him either. But it is totally disingenuous and, frankly, irresponsible to make common cause with a bigoted racist, whose Hitlerian contempt and hate for nonwhite humanity has no equal, just because you don’t like the current government in Nigeria.

Buhari and his incompetence and ineptitude is an internal matter. We will deal with it internally. I’m sure Nigerians are looking forward to 2019 to deal with it. But we have an external enemy here. And like the Igbo say, let’s first rescue the chicken by wading off the kite and then return to chastise the chicken for wandering too far outback.