Trump’s Puerto Rico Response Is Rich White Male Arrogant Privilege Defined

There will never be a clearer illustration the delusions of rich white male conservative privilege–and the depth of Donald Trump’s depravity–than the events of  this weekend.

Puerto Rico has already long been the victim of predators and scoundrels, mostly white men in finance, feeding off the misery and degradation of poor, working class people of color. Hedge fund managers and other Wall Street crooks manipulated laws and markets to keep Puerto Rico in a form of indentured servitude, pretending that they themselves were the productive aggrieved class being stiffed by a bunch of island freeloaders. These heroic job creators squeezed the people of Puerto Rico for every last dime, crippling the islanders’ economic development and infrastructure maintenance as they worked their fingers to the bone on golf courses, over high-priced cocktails at trendy Manhattan bars and juicy steaks at the hottest spots just off K Street.

Fast forward to today. Two hurricanes in sequence have devastated Puerto Rico and many other islands, their impact exacerbated by decaying infrastructure. It’s almost certain the hurricanes themselves were strengthened in their power by the increased effects of climate change, efforts to curb which have been stymied by those very same supposed John Galts.

How did Donald Trump react to the crisis? He went golfing–and not in the way that most presidents golf for a few hours to relieve stress and have background conversations before returning to a long workday. No, President Donald Trump spent four long days ensconced at his private New Jersey golf resort, during which time he and his advisers went mostly silent while the situation in Puerto Rico worsened due to lack of attention, troops and supplies. It wasn’t until Monday when the television-obsessed commander-in-chief saw the photos of the devastation and (more importantly) the negative news coverage he was getting, that he began to mobilize into further action. But the multiple days’ delay from Trump and his acolytes–whom we are assured are “the best people” and “the best brains” who are “working so hard” for the American people–was costly.

Predictably, the indefatigable Puerto Rican public officials actually managing the crisis were not happy with the Administration’s tardy efforts and didn’t hesitate to say so publicly. Particularly prominent was San Juan’s Carmen Yulín Cruz, who went on cable news to plead for more resources and to highlight the severity of the unfolding disaster.

The public humiliation by a woman of color actually helping her people was more than Donald Trump could bear, so he lashed out in a series of tweets that may end up in the history books as his most offensive and reeking of racism and privilege yet. He accused the San Juan mayor of only criticizing him because Democrats said she had to, before accusing the aid workers there of laziness and of wanting “everything to be done for them.” In doing so, he echoed every generationally worn line from lazy rich white men who exploit and disenfranchise people of color, extracting every last farthing and stripping their dignity while accusing them of inadequate personal work ethic. He then topped it off by wrapping himself in the flag and the troops, as so many similar jingoistic con artists have done before him, while blaming the media for his troubles.

When this chapter of American history mercifully closes on Donald Trump and his Administration, this vignette in Puerto Rico will be illustrative of not only the president’s own moral failings, but the stink of spoiled, wealthy white male privilege that steals from harder-working, more deserving people of color, devastating their lives and destroying their communities, while lecturing on their work ethic and personal sense of responsibility. It’s not a good look.

 

 

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.