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Saturday, October 23, 2021

United Shitholes of America: Former President Trump gifted the world the latest s—hole country

By Katim S Touray

Former President Trump will certainly be remembered for many of his outrageous remarks and tweets. In a January 2018 conversation with lawmakers about immigration, President called Haiti, El Salvador and African countries “shithole countries”. His remark drew a lot of criticism, both in the US and around the world. Many US lawmakers present in the meeting condemned his remark as racist, and typical of him. In the same vein, these so-called shithole countries (from El Salvador to Ghana, Senegal to South Africa) protested and condemned it.

Fury aside, President Trump’s shithole countries are far smaller, and in many respects weaker than the US. While the US is the world’s largest economy, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $20.6 trillion in 2019, Haiti had a GDP of $19.5 billion. Similarly, sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in 2019 had a per capita GDP of $3,840, compared to $62,683 for the US.

The US is also a nuclear superpower, with 4,775 military bases (514 of which are in 45 foreign countries), and enjoys veto powers at the UN Security Council. It is thus not surprising that both the US, and these “shithole countries” their place in the world when President Trump said what he said. But the tables were soon to be turned on the world’s most powerful and richest country.

In December, 2019 came reports of cases of pneumonia of unknown causes in China. In January, 2020, the first US case was reported, and WHO declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. In February, 2020, WHO renamed the disease it initially called 2019-nCoV Covid-19, and the virus causing it was named SARS-CoV-2.

Although President Trump was warned in January 2020, that the Covid-19 would be his greatest challenge, the tragic confluence of his flawed traits (ranging from narcissism and lies, to his populist jingoism and dishonesty) led to his inept handling of the epidemic, and the rapid descent of the US into the league of shithole countries he had so condescendingly disparaged.

On March 10, 2020 when the US had 1,000 Covid-19 cases and 37 Covid-19-related deaths, President Trump declared that the US was “doing a great job with” Covid-19, and that people should “just stay calm” because “it will go away.” A few days later, he said in phone interview that he always played down the epidemic because he didn’t “want to create a panic.” He continued through practically all of 2020 claiming that Covid-19 will “go away” even as average daily new cases reached to 55,408 on October 15.

No wonder the US became the basket case of the Covid-19 pandemic. A day before the Trump presidency ended, the US had 400,000 Covid-19 related deaths, and over 24 million cases. In contrast, “shithole” African countries like Somalia and Tanzania, had 4,744 and 509 Covid-19 cases. The US also had a worse Covid-19 fatality ratio (1.7%) than Eritrea (0.3%), and Côte d’Ivoire (0.6%). Similarly, the US had more deaths per 100,000 of its population (121.52) than El Salvador (23.16), and Haiti (2.16), as well as Niger (0.62) and Burkina Faso (0.52) in Africa.

The Covid-19 epidemic ran the US economy to the ground, with the unemployment rate increasing over three-fold from 3.5% in March to 14.8% in April, 2020. US unemployment rates remained in double digits from April to July, 2020, and fell to 6.7% in December, 2020. Similarly, the number of unemployed increased from 5.8 million in January 2020 to 7.2 million in March, and more than tripled to a peak of 23.1 million in April. Although the number of unemployed people declined after peaking in April, it was over 10 million per month in the last 7 months of 2020. In contrast, some African countries recorded lower unemployment rates of 1% (Rwanda), 1.9% (Uganda) and 2% (Togo), compared an average unemployment rate of 3.9% for the US in 2020.

The Covid-19 pandemic brought into sharp focus the inequalities in the US. While hordes of millions of Americans were being laid off, and hundreds of thousands of them were dying from Covid-19, the wealth of the five richest Americans increased by 26% or $101.7 billion between March 18 and 17 June 17, 2020. In one day (July 20, 2020), when the US suffered 396 deaths, and registered almost 57,000 Covid-19 cases, the wealth of Jeff Bezos, the then richest person in the world, increased by $13 billion – as if he needed it. Furthermore, the richest 1% of the US population had 20.5% of national income, while the poorest 40% of the population had 15.4% of national income.

This sharply contrasts with what obtains in African countries such as Gabon where the poorest 40% of the population controlled 16.8% of national income, while 10.9% of national income was controlled by the richest 1% of the population. The moral of this story: Trump’s so-called s—hole countries might be poor, but what little they have is shared more equitably than the almost boundless wealth of the US.

President Trump also turned the US into a shithole country by sowing discord and divisiveness in the country. In readiness for the 2020 US presidential elections he was almost certain he would lose, he primed his supporters by discrediting the voting systems. When the election results came, he falsely claimed he had won. Like a President of a typical shithole country, President Trump clownishly contested the election results in the courts, and lost woefully.

President Trump then mobilised and whipped up the sentiments of his supporters into a frenzy. As a result, they stormed the US capitol to stop what they falsely claimed was a theft of the elections by Joe Biden. Despite the loss of 4 lives in the attack, he showed no contrition. Instead, he told his supporters that they were “special” and “loved.” President Trump thus endangered the lives of people, and failed to protect the very Constitution he swore to defend. He thus was impeached for a second time (a first in US history); adding another feather to his notoriety hat.

Despite his America First mantra, and ambition to Make America Great Again, President Trump turned the US into an shithole country that in many respects ended up dead last – and alone. It is a great pleasure to say good riddance to President Trump, who spent one year of his presidency playing golf, and whose mouth never had potty training; spewing out the shit and f words like they are all he knew.

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