Hi Everyone -- thanks for engaging in this conversation. And thanks, Troy, for kicking it off.
I'm the publisher for The Mantle. I came up with the headline and the mailing that Troy distributed. For me, the use of "shithole" (or a censored version, like "sh*thole") was a way of co-opting the unfortunate (SAD!) phrase uttered by the president. It was an attempt to take control of the conversation by using the president's own words against him. One of the replies Troy received to the mailing said as much:
Just this morning I received an email from a friend who lives in Haiti, who referred to the island as "my shithole country" with a mix of irony and pride. The journalist and iconoclast Chris Hedges used the phrase repeatedly in his piece, "No Telescope Needed to Find a 'Shithole Country,'" to recount the many misguided American policies toward Latin American in the past 50 years, and to declare that the U.S. is the real shithole in this dialogue. Weeks later the phrase continues to be used on Twitter to describe all kinds of political arguments and claptraps.
Elsewhere, the women's movement has made a similar play in turning Trump's words against him by proudly proclaiming "pussy grabs back," in protest to his sexual abuse.
Anyone who opened the email and read the content beyond the subject line would see the anger I felt in having to even write such a message:
All of that said, this was a piece of marketing. The headline was deliberately provocative. I'm a book publisher, not a charity. I need to sell books so my writers can earn money to keep doing what they love, and so I can continue to bring emerging and under-heard voices to the American public. And if it takes a shitty headline to get your attention, I'll use it as thoughtfully as I can.