There’s a somewhat desperate attempt to insist that Donald Trump was being racist when he described Baltimore as being “infested”. Sure, actual historical people have used the word to describe somewhere having a large number of a certain type of people. A certain Adolf H comes to mind as having done so and he very definitely was indeed a racist.
And yet there is a problem here. Which is that it is possible for a place to be infested with rats – you know, actual rattus rattus sorta stuff – and for someone to say a place is infested with rats and meaning that there are lots of rattus rattus around. Or even rattus norvegicus. Because there are places that have lots of rats – not mythic ones, not metaphorical ones, but all consuming little squeaky things that aren’t Munchkins – and perhaps they shouldn’t have that many.
As it happens Baltimore, in common with many of the older East Coast cities, does have lots of rats around. And given the delapidation of the place perhaps more than many other such cities. And it’s possible to note this without referring to the race of the inhabitants of the city. Even metaphorically.
That being exactly what the current row is denying. That it is and should be possible to comment on the number of rats around without referring to the skin colour of the humans living above them.
So, you know, sigh, confected outrage.
At which point it all gets much more fun. Consider this in The Guardian:
Now he describes Baltimore, a city with proportionally one of the highest African-American populations in the US, as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess”, holding the respected black congressman who represents the district, Elijah Cummings, responsible.
The same piece has told us, just a bit earlier, this:
Hard, too, to ignore the fact that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been described as a “slum landlord” for the multiple health and safety violations reported in his family firm’s 9,000 Baltimore properties, including mice, maggots and mould.
The Donald has it from the horse’s mouth, his own son in law the landlord, that Baltimore is infested. What amuses being that both are used in the same piece. It’s disgusting and racist that the son in law allows such infestation in Baltimore, it’s disgusting and racist that The Donald notes the infestation.
Sure, we could go with one or the other – if we strained mightily as if against a logical hemorrhoid – as being racist. The poor Darkies can live in my infested apartments and I don’t care, Ha Ha! would be racist. Baltimore’s infested with Darkies would be racist. But Baltimore really is infested as Kushner’s rodent problem shows but it’s racist for the father in law to say so, well, we’re beyond hemorrhoid and constipation into total logical bowel obstruction, aren’t we?
So well done to Afua Hirsch there for adopting the Boris Johnson attitude toward cake, in favour of both having and eating.