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Every once in a while, just when you thought you’ve heard and seen it all, somebody comes along and says or does something that completely shocks you. Most recently, it was how a single person, uttering a single word, managed to insult large swaths of the world’s population. In this case, however, we shouldn’t be surprised because that single person was Donald Trump. And when it comes to his bombastic personality, by now we should know to expect the unexpected.
It all started about two weeks ago when the Washington Post reported that in a meeting pertaining to the country’s immigration policy, the president referred to certain countries—those in Latin America, Africa, and the Caribbean—using a rather obscene term.
Needless to say it created quite a diplomatic row, with foreign leaders summoning US ambassadors to clarify the statement and even going so far as to demand an apology. The White House, in response, neither confirmed nor denied that the offensive term was said, only admitting that the president used “tough language” during the meeting as an indication of his commitment to immigration reform. (For the record, I’m not going to repeat the inflammatory term, but will use the derivative form of “craphole” instead.)
Putting aside the accusation that the comment had racist insinuations, I don’t see what all the fuss is about. If you want to assert that the president used language that was inappropriate for the exalted office… fine. But let’s be honest—we’ve all probably said some questionable things; even our own prime minister recently referred to his footwear as “shitkickers”, and alluded to using them on a fellow member of Parliament. On the other hand, if you took umbrage with the word itself, finding it demeaning as a citizen of a country located in one of the before-mentioned regions, then by all means… be indignant. But take a moment to consider this—is such a description far from being true?
Trinbagonian patriots love to talk about our country as being a paradise; touting how our people are as warm as the climate, lauding our cultural diversity and promoting our talents in the arts. But how does that patriotism reconcile with the realities of a spiralling murder rate, a political system that’s rife with corruption, and a civil infrastructure that’s inefficient and overwhelmed? Declaring that our country is a “craphole” might be extreme and overly dramatic, but defending the notion that it’s somehow still a paradise is not only delusional but borders on idiocy as well.
A perfect example of this confusing contrast was the PNM’s New Year’s message; a four-minute video featuring Senator Huggins, Minister Young, and MP Leonce. Their performance—if it could be called that—was awkwardly executed, almost as if they themselves didn’t believe the message being peddled. And why should they? It was a half-hearted admission that 2017 was “challenging”, combined with a lacklustre appeal that the public should continue to trust in their leadership. It was so incredulous to watch that I couldn’t help but wonder who in the party’s leadership felt the video was a good idea and would be well-received.
But perhaps therein lies the crux of the issue. If Trinidad and Tobago is indeed a “craphole” country, it is because it has “craphole” leadership. How else are we to explain our current standard of living?
There are elected members from both parties who have sat in the Parliament, occupying the same seat for decades, and have nothing to show for their tenure. Meanwhile, things have only gotten worse for the average citizen, yet they are told to believe in the promise that better days lie ahead. Unfortunately, it’s a promise that shows ZERO signs of being fulfilled.
So what if the leader of the free world thinks poorly of places like Trinidad and Tobago? You should be more concerned that such places, our country included, are that way because they have poor leaders.
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