The Long Way Home

It was twenty years ago today…that Linda Tripp contacted the office of Independent Counsel Ken Starr to talk about tapes she had made of conversations with Monica Lewinsky, allegedly detailing an affair she had with then-President Clinton. A week later, the Drudge Report web site would reveal those allegations, which were picked up by other news services within the next few days. When I first heard the reports, my heart sank. The last thing I want from our President, especially one whose political beliefs aligned with mine, is to be embarrassed. Leaders are role models; Presidents dominate the moral tone of our country. The next three years, while robust economically, were a minefield of prurient disclosures, with parents worrying about, “How can I tell my children what a ‘blow-job’ is?”

The next two Presidents, no matter their political beliefs, managed to uphold a public face of rectitude and good behavior. Times were tumultuous economically, and US-led wars in Asia boiled and simmered. But at least the man in charge was attempting to display a positive attitude for the rest of us to model. Recall George W. Bush’s comments after the destruction of the World Trade Center, and terrorist attack on the Pentagon by 19 Muslims from Saudi Arabia: “These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. … The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam.”

Barack Obama, after the horrific slaughter of black parishioners at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, SC, said, “I am confident that the outpouring of unity and strength and fellowship and love across Charleston today, from all races, from all faiths, from all places of worship, indicates the degree to which those old vestiges of hatred can be overcome.”

And now…now, we are once again faced with disgrace and embarrassment from our leader. According to the New York Times (and Washington Post), “President Trump on Thursday balked at an immigration deal that would include protections for people from Haiti and some nations in Africa, demanding to know at a White House meeting why he should accept immigrants from ‘shithole countries’ rather than from places like Norway, according to people with direct knowledge of the conversation…When Mr. Trump heard that Haitians were among those who would benefit from the proposed deal, he asked whether they could be left out of the plan, asking, ‘Why do we want people from Haiti here?’ ”

Two Democratic Senators at the meeting, and one Republican confirmed those remarks and his attitude. Two other Republican Senators could not recall the details, and would not confirm the language or nuance.

Labeling Africa as full of “shithole countries” is not simply politically incorrect nor is it good immigration policy. It’s RACISM, and THERE SHOULD BE NO PLACE IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY FOR IT. Watching Republicans try to defend the thinking and beliefs of their party’s leader is …sad.

Many Sub-Saharan African countries have the fastest growing GDPs in the world, thanks in large part to Chinese investment in infrastructure. Are we going to abandon all those new consumers coming online to Chinese businesses? Bad deal for America!

Here is a list of all the Sub-Saharan countries with GDP growth more rapid than Norway in 2016: Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Tanzania, Kenya, Central African Republic, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Rwanda, Malawi, Sao Tome and Principe, The Gambia, Togo, Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe!), Uganda, Cameroon, Madagascar, Ghana, Djibouti, Mauritania, Somalia, Dem Rep of Congo, Gabon, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Sudan, Comoros.

The list is equally long for Central and South American countries, including Haiti. Norway is tied (with North Korea) at 87th on this list of 120 countries from the International Monetary Fund.

Somebody is making these countries grow. People who grew up there, live there, and want desperately to see their friends and neighbors succeed in this world. Smart people, productive people. We should be the place smart Africans, Haitians, and others want to come for their education, their MBAs, not China.

A businessman in the White House should be helping “the people who talk that way in bars all across America” [the Fox News excuse for Trump’s language] see the economic advantages of inclusion, not assuaging their reptilian ids.

After the Second World War, we had visionary leaders who knew that helping Europe and East Asia recover from the ravages of that time would be good not just for them, but for our country: more people making more money means bigger markets for American goods. To that end, we held out a welcoming face to peoples just recently seen as the embodiment of evil (Germans), and even  supported the resurrection of a country whose American citizen descendants had been incarcerated during the war (Japan). We showed our better nature to the world, and we all benefited from that. We’ve done what we can in Europe and East Asia; we need Latin America and Africa to keep us growing and Make America Great Again. Calling them names, disparaging their homes, not recognizing the progress they are making is counter-productive in the extreme.

It is beyond ironic that I am writing this on the eve of the Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday. Nothing can be done about the racism in Donald Trump’s heart. But the rest of our leaders – Republicans and Democrats – can still get on with the project of helping the world improve itself, starting here at home.

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