Norway was once a shithole

Let’s not pretend to be surprised that Trump says we need more immigrants from countries “like Norway.” The statement is not only consistent with Trump’s practice of judging people based on race, but it reflects his self-serving belief that rich people are special and deserving of our deference, or in his case, our worship.

Both of those beliefs, of course, serve Norway well. Although the Nordic nation has a rapidly growing population of people of African and Middle Eastern heritage, it’s still pretty damn white. And it’s VERY rich. Largely due to their oil industry, the Norwegians are neck-and-neck with the Swiss in terms of median income. To put it in terms Trump would understand, the only people in Europe who are richer come from tiny, bullshit countries like Monaco and Luxembourg.

Considering how much economic opportunity exists in their home country, there’s not much incentive for the average Norwegian to immigrate to America. The only ones with a strong economic incentive to come here would be its wealthiest residents who are seeking to protect their wealth from Norway’s high taxes.

But of course, that didn’t used to be the case. The legacy of a dirt-poor Norway is obvious throughout the Upper Midwest. Wisconsin is dotted with villages –– Norway, Scandinavia, Mt. Horeb –– shaped by the more than 1 million Norwegians who immigrated to the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th century in search of better farming opportunities than existed back home.

Would Trump, whose victory in Wisconsin and Michigan may very well have been impossible without the support of the descendants of Norwegian immigrants, argue that the U.S. erred in allowing their penniless ancestors entry at Ellis Island?

I hope that the response to Trump’s remarks is more than mere outrage, which only plays into his narrative, according to which he’s delivering the tough truths to protect America while others are busy being offended on behalf of other countries. Instead, we need to emphasize America’s tradition of serving as a shining light on a hill for people in search of a better life, excuse me, people from shitholes.