NJ’s most controversial opinion? — ‘Some places are sh*tholes’
Last week we put out a call on our Facebook page asking "What's the most controversial thing you believe?"
Although "pineapple is good on pizza" and "liberalism is a mental disorder" did resonate with me on different sides of the fence, one did stick out in particular to me.
Warning: The following except contains explicit language
When President Trump said that to a member of Congress a few weeks ago, I wasn't surprised. He's always less than careful or artful with his words and says things he shouldn't routinely. I also wasn't offended and agree that many places around the world and even in our country are sh*tholes.
That doesn't mean the people from there are any less desirable, just that where they come from is horrible. It struck a chord with me because back in 2010, I had the opportunity to visit the town in Sicily where my maternal grandparents came from.
I had visited my father's family's town (in Calabria) years earlier and had reconnected with that part of the family after 60 years of little or no contact. The town was nice (for Southern Italy standards), the family was great and a good time was had by all. My maternal grandparents (from Sicily) were orphans and any chance for re-connection was pretty close to zero. But my mother had heard her parents talk about the town and she wanted me to visit it.
My son and I were staying with a friend of mine from Sicily and he agreed to take us to the other end of the island to find it. He had never heard of it and even his friends who lived nine miles away, had no idea about the town. When we arrived my friend was shocked at how really nasty the place was.
We stopped at a cafe to ask some questions and get more information about the town. He became so nervous by the answers he was (or wasn't) getting, that he insisted that we leave immediately. Now mind you, he was a native of Sicily and thought he had seen everything, but he wasn't prepared for that.
We found out later that day that the police won't go there and the town has no mayor or any form of governance. It had become a hiding place for people running from the law. I was disappointed and disheartened. When I called my dad that evening to check in, he asked if I had found the town. I said, "yeah I did, don't tell mom this but it's a real sh*thole."
Was I any less proud of the extraordinary journey my grandparents had taken to leave there? Did I think any less of my grandparents for having come from there? Quite the opposite. It was even more remarkable and awe inspiring to see the extreme circumstances they came from to be the honest, productive amazing citizens that they had become here in the US.
So yes, there are sh*tholes around the world that people come from. That's why they leave everything they know, their family, their friends, their language, their world. That's why they come here. It doesn't make them lesser, it makes them part of the fabric of amazing, courageous people who risk everything to become an American.
The term 'sh*thole' seems an in-artful and crude way for an American President to describe some other places in the world, but it's true!
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