Why would any­one from Nor­way want to come here?

The Washington Post - - FREE FOR ALL - Alexan­dra Petri writes the Com Post blog at wash­ing­ton­post.com/blogs/com­post. ALEXAN­DRA PETRI

“Pres­i­dent Trump grew frus­trated with law­mak­ers Thurs­day in the Oval Of­fice when they dis­cussed pro­tect­ing im­mi­grants from Haiti, El Sal­vador and African coun­tries as part of a bi­par­ti­san im­mi­gra­tion deal, ac­cord­ing to sev­eral peo­ple briefed on the meet­ing. ‘Why are we hav­ing all th­ese peo­ple from shit­hole coun­tries come here?’ Trump said, ac­cord­ing to th­ese peo­ple, re­fer­ring to coun­tries men­tioned by the law­mak­ers. Trump then sug­gested that the United States should in­stead bring more peo­ple from coun­tries such as Nor­way.”

— The Post, Fri­day, Jan. 12 I defy any­one to stand up with a straight face and say they are sur­prised by Trump’s re­mark. But as usual, Congress is try­ing. Sen. Or­rin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said, “I look for­ward to get­ting a more de­tailed ex­pla­na­tion re­gard­ing the pres­i­dent’s com­ments.”

Now Trump main­tains this was not the lan­guage he used. Sure. It sounds com­pletely un­like him. What could the ex­pla­na­tion be? The first speech out of Trump’s mouth af­ter he de­scended the es­ca­la­tor: “When Mex­ico sends its peo­ple, they’re not send­ing their best. They’re not send­ing you. They’re not send­ing you. They’re send­ing peo­ple that have lots of prob­lems, and they’re bring­ing those prob­lems with us. They’re bring­ing drugs. They’re bring­ing crime. They’re rapists.”

He just for­got the words he was al­lowed to use to say this sort of thing. He keeps for­get­ting.

This is only a sur­prise in the sense that go­ing to the bath­room and find­ing that some­one has not flushed the toi­let is a sur­prise. You know it isn’t sup­posed to hap­pen, but it’s ex­actly the kind of thing you would ex­pect to find there. It is a sur­prise in the sense that usu­ally this part is bleeped. It is a sur­prise in the sense that see­ing the thing that is usu­ally blurred or cov­ered with a black bar is a sur­prise, which is to say, not. He for­got to leave the fig leaf on; that is all. We are shocked, shocked to find any­thing that might hint at racism in this es­tab­lish­ment, whose slo­gan is Let’s Bring Back The 1950s And Also We Have Se­ri­ous Com­plaints About Colin Kaeper­nick!

I guess the shock is that usu­ally he uses a smaller whis­tle. But he doesn’t, not re­ally. So it’s just the word, then.

You are sup­posed to cloak th­ese kind of sen­ti­ments, you see. You are sup­posed to say hand-ups not hand-outs and just be wist­ful about the 1950s for no par­tic­u­lar rea­son. You are sup­posed to say what a nice sort of lady Tay­lor Swift is, not like th­ese other sorts of ladies. You are sup­posed to ex­press a vague misty warmth about the past, be­fore all this “political cor­rect­ness.” You do not re­mem­ber most of what hap­pened in the past, of course. Abra­ham Lin­coln did some­thing that was im­por­tant to do, and es­pe­cially at that time. An­drew Jack­son prob­a­bly could have pre­vented the Civil War. What was the Civil War about again? Prob­a­bly noth­ing. Prob­a­bly there were good peo­ple on both sides.

No, I’m sorry. Maybe Trump just meant that he wants to make Amer­ica a nicer place to live in than Nor­way, and the thought got a lit­tle tan­gled on some­thing on the way to his mouth. All he is say­ing is that he wants to give ev­ery­one health care and, uh, so­cial­ism? This is cer­tainly a round­about way of say­ing this, but, you know, ben­e­fit of the doubt. No, this can­not be what he meant. Be­sides from the be­gin­ning, Trump seems to have been tak­ing a dif­fer­ent tack when it came to im­mi­gra­tion. Be­tween the travel bans and the es­ca­la­tor re­marks and the news con­fer­ences where Stephen Miller shouted that the poem by Emma Lazarus was added to the Statue of Lib­erty later and the — well, most things, come to think of it! Maybe that is his tac­tic. He is try­ing to make Amer­ica worse so that no­body will want to come, not from Nor­way, not from any­where. Could that be it?

No, only some­one who had been pay­ing even a min­i­mal amount of at­ten­tion to any­thing Trump said at any time would think Trump might pos­si­bly have some racist ideas. You are not just sup­posed to get out there and say the word “shit­hole.” You must be vague. Her­itage. Stat­ues. We don’t write sym­phonies any­more. You are sup­posed to dance around th­ese words. There is a subtlety and art to all this. You can­not just be overt about it.

It is not that peo­ple dis­agree, of course. It is just in poor taste, like leav­ing the lid of the sewer off, or typ­ing out “shit­hole” in­stead of the taste­ful s---. What could those dashes pos­si­bly be? It could be any word at all.

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