“We Are Anything but a ‘Shithole' Country!”: Exploring Nigerian Online Journalists' Reception of Donald Trump's Insult Politics

“We Are Anything but a ‘Shithole' Country!”: Exploring Nigerian Online Journalists' Reception of Donald Trump's Insult Politics

Floribert Patrick C. Endong (University of Calabar, Nigeria) and Paul Obi (Independent Researcher, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9821-3.ch012

Abstract

This chapter examines Nigerian online journalists' reception of Donald Trump's shithole remarks through a content analysis of 126 articles published online by 12 leading Nigerian newspapers, from January 2018 to January 2019. The chapter argues that Trump's shithole remarks engendered mitigated reactions from the Nigerian public, particularly from Nigerian online journalists. The greatest portion of these journalists' articles (over 68.73% of what they published online) hastened to endorse Trump's insult rhetoric and gloomy description of their country, presenting Trump's comment as a vivid depiction of the Nigerian socio-political and economic reality. In their articles, Nigerian journalists mainly used Trump's insult rhetoric as a tool to lambast the Nigerian leadership and lament the degradation of living conditions in their country. One thing that unfortunately remains evident and relatively deplorable in their reactions is the fact that little attention was given to the one-sidedness and exaggeration in Trump's comments. Based on such a premise, the journalists' endorsement of Trump's comments were in themselves one-sided and exaggerative, as they deliberately overlooked the positive facets of life in Nigeria and sounded as if Nigeria is all about negativities and doom.
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Introduction

Since his rise to power, US President, Donald Trump, has negatively “distinguished” himself through his controversial policies and constant use of an incendiary language. Using insult and mocking rhetoric in many of his mediated campaigns as well as scores of xenophobic, sexist and racist pronouncements, he has constantly attacked both American and non-American communities and personalities. He has for instance cultivated the habit of calling women “fat pigs, dogs and animals that he hates”; and has profiled Mexicans as criminals and rapists (Winberg, 2017). He has equally utilized an insult rhetoric against specific rivals of the US, notably North Korea, Iran and China, triggering constant waves of criticisms against him, even within his own political movement (the Republican Party). Another evidence of Trump’s use of insult politics was seen during the July 2018 NATO summit. During this event, he unleashed series of verbal assault on members of the transatlantic alliance calling Angela Merkel’s Germany a country “totally controlled by Russia”. During the same summit, he called other members of the alliance “deadbeats and free riders on American power” (Glasser, 2018). Recently, Trump volleyed a series of insults first at UK’s ambassador to the US calling him “wacky” and “very stupid”, then at Prime Minister May, calling her “foolish”. This followed British Ambassador, Sir Kim Darroch’s release of Britain’s memo in which the US President was described as being “incompetent”, “inept” and “insecure”,

One of Trump’s very controversial and racist statements is his reference to Third World and poor countries as “shithole” countries. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump reportedly asked American lawmakers during a 2018 immigration meeting with a bipartisan group of senators. Although it specifically sought to describe countries populated by Blacks and Latino people (notably Haiti, El Salvador and African countries), the statement was soon interpreted as a pejorative description of the whole global South. And as anyone would have expected, Trump’s statement elicited waves of acerb criticism particularly from poor countries’ politicians and members of the intelligentsias. The African Union Mission in Washington DC manifested its “shock and outrage” interpreting the statement as a clear misunderstanding of Africans. The organization demanded apologies from the US President highlighting the fact that Trump’s remarks “dishonor the celebrated American creed and respect for diversity and human dignity”; and that, the remarks evidence Trump government’s “huge misunderstanding of the African continent and its people” (African Union Mission, 2018, p. 5). The organization also added that such insult rhetoric from Trump signals “the serious need for a dialogue between the US Administration and the African countries” (African Union Mission, 2018, p. 10).

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