Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States is to some as Grace Slick once characterized famous music promoter Bill Graham: “one of us and one of them at the same time.”
In periods of crisis, such as what Puerto Rico is currently enduring, it is the American government that must step up and supply aid, the same as it would to Texas. I think comrade Trump gets that, but it seems he still seeks to keep some distance. One of his recent statements was strange for a president but right on track for Trump:
“The electrical grid and other infrastructure were already in very, very poor shape. They were at their life’s end prior to the hurricanes. And now virtually everything has been wiped out and we will have to really to start all over again. We’re literally starting from scratch. Ultimately, the government of Puerto Rico will have to work with us to determine how this massive rebuilding effort will end up being one of the biggest ever, will be funded and organized, and what we will do with the tremendous amount of existing debt already on the island. We will not rest, however, until the people of Puerto Rico are safe. These are great people.”
In one paragraph, Trump imparts that Puerto Rico has been a disaster in a description that could very well be applied to more than a few American cities. He then states that the “government of Puerto Rico will have to work with us,” as if it’s another country that “we” will hopefully be able to do business with. You would think that he would feel some empathy, as “the tremendous amount of existing debt” describes his son-in-law perfectly.
Trump then displays his true colors — or color, rather — when, after insulting and threatening millions of people who are currently at risk of death, he puts a bandage on the yuge humanitarian nightmare when he vows that “we” will not rest until everyone in PR is safe. He finishes with a slap on the ass, a perk that comes with ownership. “These are great people.” He knows this. He’s seen them clean and park cars like champs.
A tweet from last Friday is almost scary in its ominous overtones. Thankfully, this cheap fuck is outnumbered by people with a spine.
“[T]he fact is that Puerto Rico has been destroyed by two hurricanes. Big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!”
The exclamation point at the end brings to mind a passage of Nietzsche that he hurled forth on a break from chewing his cerebral fur:
“The aim of malice is not the suffering of others in itself, but our own enjoyment; for instance, as the feeling of revenge, or stronger nervous excitement. All teasing, even, shows the pleasure it gives to exercise our power on others and bring it to an enjoyable feeling of preponderance.”
I don’t think Trump is capable of restraint. He can’t help but remind the citizens of Puerto Rico that they’re super lucky that he’s inclined to help and, oh yeah, they’re kinda lazy and waiting for the government to just swoop in and do every little thing for them. It’s not like they’re on an island or anything. Just sayin’.
The emperor golfs while Puerto Rico thirsts. If Trump could have stayed “home” last weekend, the funds expended moving him to his golf resort and back could have been put to good use. Some of Trump’s actions are so perfectly scripted, it’s as if he has hired Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher to ingeniously write and direct a real-time documentary about a world leader who does the worst thing at the perfect moment to inflict the maximum amount of damage.
The destruction exacted on Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria has turned the island into “the Puerto Rico thing.” To even bring PR back to a situation noticeably less than dire is going to take an incredible amount of effort and resources. About existing debt, Trump is not wrong. Fiscally, Puerto Rico, again like Jared Kushner, has been in very bad shape for a long time.
It’s also a perfect example of the ramifications of history and hegemony’s payback. Once you stick your flag into the soil, it’s yours and so is the responsibility for the welfare of the inhabitants you so benevolently lord over. You want to cut Puerto Rico loose? I feel the same way about Arkansas, but that’s a nonstarter.
From New Orleans’ levee failures to redirecting the Colorado River
Despite ever-diminishing resources and the reality of climate change rapidly and radically changing the future’s landscape, human populations all over the world continue to increase. It’s obvious that adjustments need to be made. Science is really good for this kind of thing. The world outside of America is very aware of this and is on the case. America, by comparison, is rolled in coal dust and buying more guns.
I’m no scholar, nor do I have the proverbial crystal ball, but my “fail to plan, plan to fail” instinct never sleeps. As it is, to bring states like Texas and territories like Puerto Rico back to humane living conditions is going to be a massive, multiyear effort, and to make good on the investment (conservatives take note), a contingency plan that anticipates weather systems going all Andromeda Strain in the future must be considered. If you look at America’s architectural history, we have paid in blood every time we went on the cheap. From New Orleans’ levee failures to redirecting the Colorado River, it’s a fact that messing with nature comes with a cost.
In the case of Homo sapiens v. Earth, we’ve got the planet on the ropes. Hurricane Maria is our world yelling, “Look what you made me do!”
Is this the kind of winning that Trump promised me I’d get so tired of? What happens when the “failing” planet finally tells humankind, “You’re fired”?
Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.
More from the mind of Henry Rollins:
Make America Filthy, Hungry, Broke and Stupid Again
Ask Yourself What Side of History You Want to Be on
Don't Let the Trump Show Distract You From What's Really Going On