Opinion: Trump loves Norway. Haiti, Latin America and Africa? Not so much

President Trump speaks during a White House news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Jan. 10.
President Trump speaks during a White House news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Jan. 10.
(Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Jan. 13. For the record, the Norwegian word for the scatological slur our president recently used to describe much of the world is “drittland.” Warning: Future references to the vulgarity spoken by President Trump will be in English.

Trump the liar has brought lasting shame to this country. The ease with which he routinely and reflexively denies the truth has been well documented, and many of us continue to marvel at how little Trump seems to suffer the consequences of his dishonesty.

But what about Trump the truth-teller, the swamp-drainer unschooled in Washington ways who says it like it is? As his reported “shithole” comment shows, Trump may do the most damage when he tells us what he really thinks, writes The Times editorial board:

It’s hard to interpret Trump’s statement — comparing Haiti and Africa with Norway, in effect — as anything other than an attack on people of color around the world. But even those who don’t interpret it that way should be appalled that the president would express such disdain and disgust for countries where poverty is rampant, where people struggle because they lack the economic advantages of Americans, where wars are not infrequent.

Ten months ago, the Los Angeles Times editorial board published a multipart series about President Trump calling him “Our Dishonest President.” We called him that because of a pattern of lies, misstatements and denials of reality that we argued were designed not just to deflect criticism, but to undermine the very idea of objective truth.

But sometimes Donald Trump is at his scariest when he’s saying what he truly believes.

Trump’s dwindling ranks of supporters say they like him because he calls things as he sees them. He’s not polished — he’s the antithesis of the smooth-talking pol, the Washington insider, the denizen of the D.C. swamp. Fine. But now he has offered us another glimpse into what the unfettered Trump sees. The ugliness here isn’t in the view, but in the viewer. Add these comments to the long list of embarrassments we’ve suffered as a nation since Nov. 8, 2016.

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How did I know the Norwegian word? Google helped, but so did my status as a second-generation Norwegian American whose family came to the United States back when the country Trump so loves now was arguably the drittland of Europe. My quick take on the president’s newfound affection for the Old Country after meeting with Norway’s prime minister: “Saying that entire regions of the nonwhite world are no better than what we flush down our toilets would probably set in motion the resignation of any Norwegian prime minister — and it ought to do the same for our president.” L.A. Times

Trump’s world is shrinking. Our president surely doesn’t consider Britain a “shithole,” but he’s decided not to visit it. On Thursday, Trump announced he was canceling an upcoming trip to London because he’d rather not cut the ribbon on the new American embassy, which he insists was built in a bad location for too much money. Editorial writer Scott Martelle is skeptical of the president’s explanation: “Great Britain is among the country’s oldest friends, and our president is all but persona non grata there. Rather than go through with the visit, Trump — whose need to be adored seems pathological — backed down.” L.A. Times

Take it from a former NCAA athlete: College sports are like Jim Crow. White spectators and administrators pat themselves on the back for giving black athletics a ladder up to a better life, but what they’re really doing is exploiting minority players in sports such as football and basketball. Writes sports historian and former track champion Victoria L. Jackson: “In big-time college sports, majority-black teams entertain majority-white crowds. Mostly white head coaches make millions, and the mostly black players don’t make any money beyond their scholarships. These students have little time for academics and therefore don’t graduate at the same rates as the general student body or the nonrevenue athlete peers. L.A. Times

Future President and Montecito resident Oprah Winfrey is OK. But her neighbors, she wants you to know, are faring worse. Vanity Fair reports: “As she walked through her property in one video posted Tuesday, Winfrey wore boots and sloshed in muck up to her shins. She pointed out that the ‘house in back,’ presumably belonging to a neighbor, ‘is gone.’” Vanity Fair

Fires are a fact of life in California. Building in wildlands doesn’t have to be. Unless local governments start prohibiting new construction in the wildland-urban interfaces that face constant fire threat, the cycle of destruction will continue, writes environmental analyst Char Miller. Two examples of enlightened ways to restrict new building in fire-prone areas can be found in Flagstaff, Ariz., and the L.A. suburb of Monrovia. L.A. Times