What is going on in Puerto Rico, and Can Trump Make It Worse?

Alex Amenta / Editor


It’s no secret that Puerto Rico is suffering from the aftermath of hurricane Maria; leaving millions of people without electricity and basic necessities, fuel is hard to find, cell towers are down, clean water is scarce, and farms are destroyed.  Puerto Rican Officials have declared the situation a humanitarian crisis, and FEMA is providing the relief it can but the challenges of delivering emergency supplies is exacerbated by the logistics of the Island; Brock Long, FEMA administrator speaks as to why this storm has been so destructive:

This is a logistically challenging, very unique event that the United States hasn’t in a very, very long time, if ever,” Long said. “Because you have to remember that not only did Irma come through and create quite a bit of damage and destruction that we were working to repair, but Maria was one mile per hour from being a Category 5 storm, give or take one mile per hour from being a cat 5, one of the strongest storms Puerto Rico has seen since the 20s, and let’s face it, the infrastructure is weak, and there are no building codes and so there is a lot of devastation. And we understand that.”

The damage done in Puerto Rico will take time to recover from, however since the Hurricane touched down on the Island on September 20th , there hasn’t been a sufficient coverage of what is the absolute devastation of 3.4 million American realities.  As the current news coverage is focused primarily on the controversy of NFL players kneeling during the Anthem. Interestingly enough according to Google trends there is a significant spike in interest for “NFL Kneeling” in google search results that starts around September 24th just 4 days after Puerto Rico was hit by Maria. On September 24th the number of search results for “Puerto Rico” actually plummets and then struggles to reach levels that it was reaching between September 20th-24th. Until very recently on September 26th it has peaked again thanks to public, and social media outcry.
So there is some evidence that public interest in Puerto Rico was indeed detracted by the NFL kneeling controversy, but what also doesn’t help expedite the aid process is Trump’s “official” response over twitter through a string of tweets “Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble… …It’s old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars…. …owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities – and doing well. #FEMA” This response may seem insensitive and brash, but whether Trump knows it or not he is engaging in “Whataboutism” which is an “attempt to discredit an opponent’s position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument.” So here Trump is trying to discredit Puerto Rico’s claim to expedited federal aid because it is in massive debt, and further attempts to discredit their need for aid by comparing the struggle of Puerto Rico under Maria to Texas under Harvey and Florida under Irma. Obviously, these are false equivalences and this is a logical fallacy, that at worst could discourage people who might donate to relief efforts for Puerto Rico to think twice because the president tweeted something that isn’t true or logical and people who are in a position to help believe him, over the 3.4 million people stuck in apocalyptic conditions.

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