Puerto Rico needs sympathy and aid yesterday, not condescending comparison

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 at 6:07 PM

Words, tone and timing all play a big part in how we communicate as humans. On Oct. 3, United States President Donald Trump visited Puerto Rico to give condolences, but mostly insults to its grief-stricken people.

CNN quoted Trump saying: “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, with really a storm that was just totally overpowering, nobody’s ever seen anything like this.”

So, let’s try to break down the total madness of this statement. First, Trump was right by saying every death is a horror; then he says “but,” which means he’s about to totally contradict himself by trivializing the deaths of the 16 Puerto Ricans, saying it’s nothing compared to the hundreds of deaths caused by Katrina.

What I think he wanted to say was, “These deaths are a tragedy, but let’s be thankful it’s not as bad as the many who lost their lives in Katrina.” Now I don’t speak for the president, but it’d be nice to imagine that’s what he meant.

However, he basically stated that “You had 16 people die, it’s really not that bad.”

It was a much harsher tone than what was called for. People are starving and dying, and they look to their president for encouragement and reassurance, not belittlement.

Plus, by saying, “If you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina,” this just says that what the people of Puerto Rico are facing is not a catastrophe.

Then to go on and say, “A storm that was just totally overpowering, nobody’s ever seen anything like this.” That just totally contradicts his earlier statement about Katrina being a real catastrophe.

Trump was also quoted saying: “You can be very proud of all of your people and all of our people working together. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people. You can be very proud. Everybody around this table and everybody watching can really be very proud of what’s taken place in Puerto Rico.”

Once again, he starts off with a nice sentiment, talking about their people and our people working together (even though Puerto Ricans are Americans, so it’s still not entirely correct, but that’s neither here nor there), but then flubs it.

Then he gets into the number of people who died in the catastrophe. “16 versus thousands.” Once again, he compares human lives as if it somehow makes this tragedy better.

He then repeats himself about how proud the Puerto Ricans should be. Though I’m not sure what he means by proud. Proud that they survived, or proud that only 16 people died; because one of those is not something to be exactly proud about.

Although I don’t think the president always says the right thing in the right way, I’d like to believe that he’s at least trying to make an effort to comfort the grief-stricken citizens of Puerto Rico in his own offensive Trump way.

Steven Tagliente can be reached at voices.spectator@gmail.com. 

Tags: voices, opinion, trump

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