As hurricane-ravaged Puerto Ricans are dying amid what San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz is calling the Trump administration’s “inefficiency and bureaucracy,” the president took time during what is at least his 62nd visit to one of his 17 private luxury golf resorts to unleash a twitterrhea tirade targeting the desperate yet determined city leader. Frustrated to the point of infuriation by the government’s shamefully slow rescue and relief efforts, Yulín Cruz had blasted the administration’s repeated assertions that it is doing a “fantastic job” for millions of Puerto Ricans who, 10 days post-Maria, still don’t have anywhere near enough food, water, fuel, shelter or electricity.
“I’m begging anyone who can hear us to save us from dying,” Yulín Cruz pleaded on Friday. “If we don’t get the food and the water into people’s hands, we are going to see something close to a genocide.”
To which Trump, who already sparked outrage by tweeting about Puerto Rico’s “massive debt” as the island territory’s worst-ever humanitarian crisis unfolded, responded by firing off a disgusting volley of — what else — tweets suggesting Puerto Ricans are suffering because they’re lazy. They “want everything done for them when it should be a community effort,” he wrote, accusing Yulín Cruz of “such poor leadership ability.”
The United States of America is the most powerful nation in human history. It is able to invade, conquer and occupy countries halfway around the globe for the sake of its own power, yet it now seems nearly powerless to save the lives of its own citizens on a small island in its own backyard. To borrow one of Trump’s favorite campaign phrases, what the hell is going on? That the president of the United States, a nation more than $20,000,000,000,000 in debt, would even mention Puerto Rico’s debt is the very height of hypocrisy. That he would do it during such a deadly, desperate disaster, and add fuel to the fire by attacking Yulín Cruz for trying to save American lives, crosses the line into something else altogether. We’ll give it a name later.
Puerto Ricans cannot vote for president, and this could partially explain why Trump is treating them like second-class citizens, like they’re something less than true Americans. Puerto Ricans are also obviously Latinos, and we all know how this president — who launched his 2016 campaign by calling Mexicans “rapists” — thinks of brown people. Take the millions of hard-working undocumented immigrants, for example. They contribute billions upon billions of dollars to our nation’s economy and are by far a net benefit to the country, yet to Trump and his ilk they’re a drain on the system. This is but the latest sickening example of conservatives speciously lambasting people of color as welfare mooches, when in reality Republicans and their corporate overlords are the world heavyweight champion welfare kings, from billions of dollars in annual taxpayer-funded subsidies to taxpayer-funded private jet jaunts.
This is Donald Trump’s Katrina, right down to a masturbatory and self-delusional “heckuva job, Brownie” moment or three. And like the Bush administration’s response to Katrina, Trump’s treatment of desperate and dying Americans must be called out for what it is — vile racism.