Immigration Battles & a Gutsy Bar

Across from the bar, there’s a table stacked five to ten books high with a dozen titles or so for sale.

The books are displayed around a sign that reads: “WRITERS FROM S##THOLE COUNTRIES,” referring to nations, specifically Haiti and African countries, that President Trump allegedly derided as not having the quality of immigrants acceptable for the United States.

The book display is in a combination bar/bookstore in upstate New York, in Kingston, ninety miles from New York City, creatively and appropriately named the Rough Draft Bar & Books.

“Proudly selling books by writers from ‘s**thole countries’ since 2017,” Says a Facebook posting by the business.

It’s a good bet the book table will need to be expanded, with Mexican writers being strong candidates for a presence given Trump’s past remarks. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he said back in 2015 when he kicked off his presidential campaign. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems for us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

Nevertheless, with Trump’s mercurial personality and policy switches, no one can be sure of his eventual position on Mexican immigration.

On Cinco de Mayo in 2016, Trump, being supposedly inclusive while simultaneously promoting business for one of his Trump Tower tenants, tweeted a smiling picture of himself enjoying a super-sized taco bowl: “Happy #CincoDeMayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!”

Writers from countries where refugees are fleeing from the impacts of climate change might also end up with a sales table at the Rough Draft, with desperate evacuees and expats derogatorily labelled by the White House as Al Gore flunkies.

Still, based on conflicting testimony from the invitees to the January 11th White House immigration meeting, controversy ensued over what offending word President Trump allegedly said.

Some said it was s**thole, some said it was s**thouse, and others claimed with a straight face that they heard neither word. Aside from the apparent need for hearing aids to be distributed at White House meetings, there also appears to be a lack of awareness that it’s the first syllable in the president’s insulting depiction of poorer countries that is the sole problem, not the second syllable.

A photo of the sign and book table at the Rough Draft Bar & Books was picked up and published by Business Insider, the New York Post and others, generating thousands of web and Facebook hits, many supportive but some complaining that the attempt to be humorous was at the expense of people from those countries.

“That was never our intent,” replied the bar/bookstore owners on Facebook, announcing they replaced the table sign with “E pluribus unum,” Latin for “Out of many, one,” referring to the union formed by the separate states.

The owners of the Rough Draft Bar & Books additionally posted on Facebook that they’d donate 100 percent of the profits from the book table and 10 percent of total store sales from the previous weekend to the International Rescue Committee. The IRC, founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, offers lifesaving assistance to uprooted refugees forced to flee from war or disaster.

Here are a dozen of the book selections on the table:

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai;
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James;
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma;
Dare Not Linger by Nelson Mandela;
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe;
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue;
All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu;
What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi;
Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo;
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie;
Beats of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala; and
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.