Drift from the Honduras thread...
It seems to me that when we call small Latin American countries "banana republics" and "shitholes" we're feeding into a colonialist discourse with a long history - a discourse that cheapens and devalues other countries by assuming that (1) they are not real countries, but inventions of US agriculture multi-nationals without agency of their own, and (2) they are terrible places to live, which we should approach with a condescension that is either imperialist or else in the case of leftists framed as 'compassion'.
Now, I'm conscious that the leaders of these countries are often illegitimate and representatives only of the dominant elites who manage to get themselves elected through deceit and money politics at best, coercion and terror at worst. Yet it seems to me that projecting that image of banana republics/shitholes on the entire country is to demean the people of the country as a whole.
My reaction comes from knowing a small amount about the history of these terms. If a country like (say) Nicaragua is only a "banana republic," then there's no good reason the US should not send in troops to "restore order" or "ciivilize" or "liberate" the people. "Banana republics" are lesser, and the language helps create the impression that they matter less. Iran is a real country and its people deserve our solidarity. Honduras is just a banana republic undergoing one of its "typical power struggles". As Bill Clinton said, wrongly and dismissively, about the Balkans: "those people have been fighting each other for thousands of years." We're into hierarchy of nations stuff, always with the USA (or in our case, Canada maybe) on the top. "Lesser" countries get defined by their materials they produce, and then dismissed.
Or take "shithole." Now, there is a lot of poverty in Honduras, as in most of Latin America. Military dictators and plutocrats have fostered that. But is Honduras any more of a "shithole" than Ontario, which has its own poverty? if you measure by GDP, maybe, but if you measure by sustainable well-being and other indices not approved by the World Bank, Honduras is no worse than the USA. And that's on average, not even including the lives of (racialized, gendered) underclasses in the USA, in "shitholes" like Los Angeles and Washington DC.
The implication of the "shithole" discourse, it seems to me, is that these countries are characterized by uniform, grinding, misery. That is present, yes, and maybe in larger numbers than in wealthy-on-average North America. But the language, I think, devalues others by reading them as a single miserable mass, denying individual experiences and judging others by the values of the over-developed North, which manufactures and exports a lot of the poverty.
Possibly I'm over-reacting to the language, but language matters I think. Anyways, I think it's worth talking about. So, a new thread rather than me trying to derail the Honduras coup discussion.