The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is seen Monday Feb. 25, 2008 in Longyearbyen, Norway. (AP Photo/John McConnico)
After telling lawmakers in an Oval Office meeting Thursday he doesn’t want more immigration from “shithole countries,” President Trump said the U.S. should bring in more people from countries such as Norway instead.
In the history of international migration to the U.S., it was a deeply ironic statement. (Many have also called it racist, since Trump used the vulgarity to describe Haiti, El Salvador and African nations.)
About a century ago, a wave of European migration drew many Norwegians to the U.S. At the time, they faced challenges assimilating and catching up with native-born Americans.
But now that the president wants Norwegians to come on over? They’re likely too successful to bother.
Norway may have been on Trump’s mind due to his recent meeting with the country’s prime minister, who would have reason to boast of her country’s economic success. Norway has ranked at the top of the U.N.’s Human Development Index for all of this century. By all measures, it has a high quality of life.
But, interestingly enough, that’s a relatively recent development.
For the vast majority of history, including the period in the mid-to-late 1800s and early 1900s that comprised the biggest wave of immigration from what is now Norway to the United States, Norway might have been on the president’s so-called manure pile. European immigrants of that time fueled many of the same fears about immigration we see today, and politicians fought to close the nation’s borders back then — as successive waves of migrants from different European countries faced hostility upon arrival in the U.S.
Until the postwar era, Norway’s per-capita gross domestic domestic product — that is, the amount of economic activity generated per person — was about half …read more