Privies and Paroxysms

President Trump’s recent alleged statements about immigration from “[outdoor latrine] countries” caused quite a few paroxysms among his opponents, and dismay among some of his supporters.

Even telling like it is has limits. If there is such a country, however, Haiti certainly fits the description. that is not to say the people there are no count good-for-nothing. They have suffered under one corrupt dictator after another who have kept that nation in a shambles as a vehicle for their personal profit.

As far as the alleged comment about immigration from Norway, that sounds like a rhetorical question. People usually do not emigrate for countries with stable governments, rule of law, personal freedom, and the resulting prosperity. Norway certainly fits that description.

Why are some countries so different? Historians, anthropologists, sociologists, and related professionals have been trying to answer that question for a long time. And I won’t try to here, other than to note that Professors Ian Morris and Jared Diamond, in unrelated recent works, have some interesting ideas that may be on to something.

People emigrate for economic, political, religious, and other reasons, one of them is being on the lam. Many Americans hold some nostalgic affection for places whence their ancestors came (even if they’ve never been there). Most are probably glad those immigrants left. In the 1880s and 1890s, Russia probably qualified as an outhouse if one were Jewish. Millions of Jews got the hell out of Russia and came to America. They weren’t tired and poor wretched refuse, they were just tired of being poor, and didn’t want to be murdered by the periodic pogroms that occurred there. The later experience of the Soviet Union certainly made many of those emigrants’ descendants glad they did. Likewise, economists Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell both have acknowledged that they are better off that their ancestors were brought to America from Africa, even as slaves.

Donald Trump can be rude, crude, and often uses bad grammar (as anyone who tweets does). What he says often offends some leaders (often self-appointed) of various interest groups, but he is not a racist. No one has said he negatively characterized those who want to come here, but just the countries, many of which doubtless qualify for his epithet. The larger question is how many immigrants from those places can we absorb here?

See today’s column by Mary Anastasia O’Grady, who specializes in writing about Latin American issues. At

References: Ian Morris, Why the West Rules, For Now; Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel.

Also, a while back, I thought I would try to improve on Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus” verse on the Statue of Liberty, and invited my brother Steve to give it a shot. I invite others to do so.

Lazarus version:

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

My version:

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “I welcome your stalwart, intrepid,
Tired of being poor and yearning to breathe free,
Scorned by kings for wanting more.
Send these, the ill-used and fed-up home to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Steve’s version:

Sentiment, the sweetly stuff of saps,
Requires that tears be shed for victim’d good
Yet nursing those whose souls have given up
Renders Liberty’s message misconstrued.
Charity is not the strength we claim in patrimony.
A torch, a book: no open purse.
Opportunity, no promise of success:

Give me your tired – who rested will bring forth
Energy to light my beacon torch.
Give me your poor – who they themselves will make
Rich through enterprise, recorded in my book
Agreed among us all to common good.
Ye huddling masses, give each other strength!
The air is fresh and clear: breathe it for yourself!
Wretched refuse? Prove you are not.
Homeless, build a home
Here, keep what is yours:
Nothing is Caesar’s, Nothing is God’s.
Helpless, stay away.

By bobreagan13

My day job is assisting individuals and small businesses as a lawyer. I taught real estate law and American history in the Dallas County Community College system. I have owned and operated private security firms and was a police officer and criminal investigator for the Dallas Police Department.

I am interested in history and historical research, music, cycling, and British mysteries and police dramas.

I welcome comments, positive, negative, or neutral, if they are respectful.

Leave a Reply