The people of Puerto Rico are staring into the face of a mounting humanitarian crisis but the president of the United States response has been to remind them of the cost of doing what it the US is obliged to do, while throwing racially coded insults and paper towels.
Can anybody imagine the reaction if this guy wasn’t “White,” saying something like Puerto Rico is “an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water…?”
People are literally running low on food and water, so it’s not clear why the president was tossing paper towels instead of badly needed supplies. It would have been in poor taste to throw food and water as well, but it would have made more sense, unless the paper towels were symbols of a deeper meaning. Could this be his way of suggesting that they have to clean up their own catastrophe?
In his sixth grader voice Trump said while visiting Puerto Rico on Tuesday, “Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here… Sixteen people, versus in the thousands,” Trump said. “You can be very proud.”
Trump actually implied that what the island is going through wasn’t a “catastrophe” since it didn’t kill as many folks as Hurricane Katrina. But if the slow pace of aide especially medicines continues along with the lack of electricity and now the lack of fuel for the generators for those hospitals still operating, dozens possibly hundreds of people could perish.
The elderly and infirmmed are literally dying every day the more accurate death count is likely closer to at least one hundred with the numbers climbing daily.
The irony here is the fact that Puerto Rico has a thriving pharmaceutical industry that produces medicines and drugs at low costs for the mainland US.
The hosts of late night shows put Trumps foolish statements in perspective with their humor.
While visiting Puerto Rico Trump said, “I hate to tell you Puerto Rico, but you are throwing our budget a little out of whack.” Stephen Colbert on his late night show on Tuesday said, “that’s like the fireman rescuing you from a burning building and saying you do understand what our water bill we be like now right?” Jimmy Fallon said on the Tonight Show quipped,” Next time there is a hurricane we will push the island out of the way.”
Initially after the storm struck the president said nearly nothing and used the weekend after the storm struck was attack the NFL. But the worse thing Trump did was imply with his tweets that the Puerto Ricans were lazy, or looking for a handout. “They want everything to be done for them. It should be a community effort,” he said in a tweet responding the mayor of San Juan’s criticism of the inefficiency and the bureaucracy that was keeping the much needed aide from being distributed. The accusation was about as poorly timed and mean spirited as they come.
But Black and Brown folks in particular have experienced this before except the negative stereotypes usually come from the Big Business press which will insist on its objectivity while reinforcing stereotypes even in the midst of tragedy and disaster.
And the racists stereotypes aren’t done, as Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans get more desperate there will be surely be crimes committed. And they will surely be captured and placed in the ‘see look at those Negroes behaving badly cause that’s their nature category.’
Speaking of crimes, Trump either accidentally or paternalistically suggested to Geraldo Rivera that the US should cancel Puerto Rico’s debt. “They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street and we’re going to have to wipe that out,” Trump told Geraldo Rivera of FOX NEWS.
The White House has never walked back a Trump gaffe faster. Mick Mulvaney, White House Budget Director said, “I would not take it word for word,” he told CNN. “We are not going to deal with the fundamental difficulties Puerto Rico had before the storm.”
Forgive Puerto Rico’s debt? Not hardly, the government said they aren’t bailing out the bondholders and Wall Street doesn’t mess around.
CNBC interviewed one the big wigs of the cartel and he was quick to remind the interviewer “This is not a dictatorship. We have bankruptcy judges and the rule of law….. wiping private bondholders assets off the books is not something a president should be doing or can do,” said Larry McDonald head of the US macro strategies at ACG Analytics.
The US has clearly dropped the ball on the Puerto Ricans and things are only going to get worse. Trump’s over estimation of what has been done so far along with the defensiveness on the part of FEMA adminstrators (who have knowingly been inept and inefficient) along with White House administrator saying this was “a good news story” tells us what they think of the Puerto Ricans: just making the attempt at helping is good enough.
justice then peace