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The Sh*thole Next Door

It’s shameful to deride immigrants by saying they come from “shithole countries.” I would not be surprised if President Trump said that. I am also not surprised by the outcry against it. But it’s not the first time I’ve heard that.

A couple of months ago, one of my professors referred to a nearby town as a “shithole” because of its significance to the Confederacy and because, somehow, that 152-year-old historical fact necessarily reflects on the character of its current citizens. One of last year’s top podcasts was “S-Town,” which earned its title from the word the main character used to describe his hometown in Alabama.

I don’t know if it’s shameful for Trump to use the phrase only because he is the president or if it’s okay for my professor to use the phrase only because he was presumably referring to Trump voters, but I do know this: it reveals a lot more about us—and the human condition—than I think we’d like to admit.

I think we all hold a little fear or hate in our hearts for “the other.” For some, like Trump and many of his constituents, “the other” may be a person of a different color and a different faith from a different country. For others, like probably many of us, “the other” may be a classmate we gossip about, a family member we can’t stand, or a next-door neighbor we don’t care to meet. My own hypocrisy reminds me of the haunting words of one of Dostoyevsky’s characters in The Brothers Karamazov: “The more I love humanity in general the less I love man in particular.”

Jesus once said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

Personally, I think that means we need to welcome the good people of Haiti and nations in Africa who are seeking a better life. But I also think it means we need to start thinking better of the people in southern Virginia and Alabama, or next-door, too.

Source Article: The Sh*thole Next Door

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