A few thoughts:
*My ancestors came to America from shithole places like 19th century Ireland and rural Canada. My best guess is that they were uneducated, poor, rude, and smelly. They were escaping their shitholes to make a better life in America for their families. And they did. They may even have endured a shithole existence in the US for a while. But things got better.
*Presidents shouldn’t talk like this about other countries.
*That said, regular people talk like this all the time. Haven’t we all heard (or used) that word used to describe certain US cities? I’ve heard it. I’ve used it.
*America’s journalists want us to understand just how hard this ordeal is for them. Should they report accurately on this vile man? Or should they protect us — their sensitive readers — from these horrible, horrible words? Pause for a moment and consider the troubling plight of journalists in a time of Trump.
*The hulabaloo about that one horrible, horrible word is distracting everyone from Trump’s point: He wants to have more merit-based immigration and less lottery-based immigration from poor countries. This is not a controversial idea. Obama and GW Bush both said the same thing. Obama explicitly tried to “promote the kind of high-skilled immigration that has helped fuel America’s economic engine.”
*I actually believe that Obama, GWB, and Trump are all wrong on this issue of skilled vs. unskilled immigration. My ancestors certainly weren’t skilled when they came into the US. The US economy is the greatest wealth generator the world has ever seen. If you’re a poor, uneducated person, the US is the place you go to make sure that your children and grandchildren are not poor and are not uneducated. Who is going to be the most loyal to the idea of America? People whose lives are transformed by our freedom. And then there are the short-term gains: Poor immigrants are the ones that are willing to do the unattractive jobs and work for lower wages. I would argue that low-skilled immigrants have helped keep inflation down for the past 30 years. They’ve been a huge boon for our economy, and we’re all better off for their contributions.
*People like Dick Durbin and Bob Schieffer are awfully quick to call racism. Trump is almost certainly biased (meaning that he prefers people who look like himself). He might in fact also be racist (meaning that he consciously believes certain races to be superior to others). But I’m wary of any journalist or politician who uses that word — racist! — to describe someone they disagree with. It’s too easy. And I fear they haven’t learned the lesson of the Boy Who Cried Wolf.