One of the smallest republics in Africa has set a shining example with a masterclass in how to stand up against international bullying, after US President Donald Trump reportedly spoke about immigration from – and I apologise for the language; it’s his word, not mine – “shithole” countries.
Mr Trump allegedly made the comment in a closed-door discussion with representatives of the DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – programme. It’s an Obama-originated initiative to allow people brought to the US illegally as children the temporary right to live, study and work in America.
The claim is that he said Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations are “shithole” countries.
Commenters have linked it with other comments attributed to Mr Trump – that Mexicans are “rapists”, Haitians “all have AIDS”, and Nigerians live in “huts”. Charming.
But it seems the government of Botswana went a little further – dragging the US ambassador to the southern African country to the presidential office and demanding that he clarify whether that country is regarded as a “shithole” by the US government.
I know some readers have disparaging opinions of Wikipedia, but This Writer would like to believe that site’s page on Botswana, which makes it clear that the country is far from the kind of place Mr Trump allegedly described:
Botswana … has maintained a strong tradition of stable representative democracy, with a consistent record of uninterrupted democratic elections and the best perceived corruption ranking in Africa since at least 1998.
A mid-sized country of just over 2 million people, Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world.
Formerly one of the poorest countries in the world—with a GDP per capita of about US$70 per year in the late 1960s—Botswana has since transformed itself into one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Botswana boasts a GDP per capita of about $18,825 per year as of 2015.
Here’s what Botswana did about Mr Trump:
— Sanam Shantyaei (@SanamF24) January 12, 2018
The letter states:
The Government of Botswana today summoned the US Ambassador to Botswana to express its displeasure at the alleged utterances made by the President of the US, Donald Trump, when he referred to African countries and others as “shithole countries” during a meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakeers at the White House on Thursday 11 January 2018.
The Botswana Government has also enquired from the US Government through the Ambassador, to clarify if Botswana is regarded as a “shithole” country given that there are Botswana nationals residing in the US, and also that some of Botswana may wish to visit the US.
The Government of Botswana is wondering why President Trump must use this descriptor and derogatory word, when talking about countries with whom the US has had cordial and mutually beneficial bilateral relations for so many years.
Botswana has accepted US citizens within her borders over the years and continues to host US guests and senior government officials, including a Congressional delegation that will come to Botswana at the end of this month; that is why we view the utterances by the current American President as highly irresponsible, reprehensible and racist.
Botswana calls on SADC [the South African Development Community], the African Union and all other progressive nations across the world to strongly condemn the remarks made by President Trump.
“Irresponsible, reprehensible and racist” – that view has been taken up by the United Nations.
The organisation’s Human Rights spokesperson Rupert Coleville said: “If confirmed these are shocking and shameful comments from the President of the United States. There is no other word you can use but ‘racist’.”
If only the UK government could bring itself to make such a principled stand.
But Theresa May has not built a reputation for principled action and has reportedly refused to condemn Mr Trump for his latest alleged rant.
For any opposition to Mr Trump, you have to visit the social media – which is perhaps appropriate as the President loves it so much – and the debate over his decision to cancel his State visit to the UK.
Mr Trump has claimed – well, we all know he can tweet for himself:
Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for “peanuts,” only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018
Oh, really? So it’s nothing to do with the recently-announced snub by Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle, who want former President Barack Obama to attend their wedding, rather than Mr Trump? That’s nice to know – if you believe it.
As for the US embassy – well:
Just look at the way this incompetent charlatan lies. The decision to relocate the US embassy was taken by G.W. Bush not Obama.
The real reason he doesn't want to go to London is he knows the British people would hold massive protests against him, so he's chickened out. https://t.co/PsOL0uSWQz
— Tom (AAV) (@Angry_Voice) January 12, 2018
Nine Elms site is actually pretty flash, going to be too flash if anything, went for a cycle around it yesterday… new Battersea Power Station development, embassy development has a 100 ft high suspended swimming pool, Thames views etc https://t.co/kBPomNNFQr
— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) January 12, 2018
Of course we all know there might be another explanation:
What a load of ********! You finally got the message that you’d be met by millions of us out on the streets protesting. https://t.co/L0Y4Q42bcT
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) January 12, 2018
Nope it’s because nobody wanted you to come. And you got the message. https://t.co/9xV7bFZQgL
— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) January 12, 2018
Nothing to do with the tens of thousands of Brits that were ready to protest, right? https://t.co/9CdaulNcI2
— aleesha (@a_leesha1) January 12, 2018
Among those who tweeted their support for Mr Trump’s decision was London Mayor Sadiq Khan, whose words prompted another Tory, well-known for putting his proverbial foot in his proverbial mouth, to do so yet again:
Many Londoners have made it clear that Donald Trump is not welcome here while he is pursuing such a divisive agenda. It seems he’s finally got that message. pic.twitter.com/YD0ZHuWtr3
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) January 12, 2018
Yes – Boris Johnson stuck his oar in, tweeting obsequious support for Mr Trump. You have to wonder why, really.
Of course, he got short shrift from the British people:
You're fooling no-one. But this is why I love Freedom of Speech, keep showing yourself up by all means.
— TracieWaylingArtASMR (@traciewayling) January 12, 2018
That’s an opinion with which we can all agree.
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