About a week ago, I decided to make all of my Facebook posts public. This includes sharing my online activism and reading on current events, as well as my usual musings and occasional pictures. I did this because I felt that as much as I don’t enjoy arguing with people, not sharing seemed dishonest, like I was hiding something. Additionally, I thought it might be a good idea to share views with people who don’t agree with me, to get out of my own media bubble. So, I’ll put it all out there, and see what happens.
So far, the only thing anyone paid attention to was when I questioned how people can continue to support Donald Trump, knowing that they are allying themselves politically with the far right – you know, ethno-nationalists, the KKK, Neo-Nazis, etc, ad nauseum. For asking this question, I was called divisive by one writer, another shared her belief in a well-known conspiracy theory, and a third writer shared some revisionist history. It could have been worse, I suppose. I can’t wait until next week.
In addition to reading with great interest the reactions to my postings, I saw another post regarding the recent furor over Trump calling a whole raft of countries “shitholes” that caught my eye. The writer stated his belief, based on his own travels while serving in the Armed Forces, that quite a few places he saw were, in point of fact, shitholes. Now, I’m not going to quibble with his opinion, but it is not just the use of a vulgarity by the president that is the problem here.
The first problem, as I see it, is context. The term was being used in the context of a government meeting about reforming immigration policy. The president used the term to describe countries from Africa, the Caribbean, and Central America, where the majority of the populations are black and brown-skinned people. According to people in the room, he used it multiple times. This insult was juxtaposed by the president’s stating of his preference for people from, say, Norway, one of the whitest countries on earth.
The second problem is simply basic civility, or the lack thereof. While I am not widely travelled, I was a cop for many years, and therefore claim some experience with both shitholes and the people who live in them. It strikes me as singularly unhelpful to declare wide swaths of the world to be shitholes. I am quite certain that if the first thing I did, when walking into someone’s home to take a complaint, was to declare it a shithole, I would have nothing but problems on my hand. And I would have deserved all of those problems, because I would have been an asshole.
I don’t know where this particular personal experiment will lead, and I don’t know how long it will last. It springs from a genuine desire to communicate, and I hope, well I don’t know what I hope, only that I have hope.