Trump to Puerto Rico: Who’s Your Daddy?

Apr 03, 2019 · 292 comments
KJ Peters (San Jose, California)
Calling Trump stupid or racist, even if true, is counterproductive. Trump is an evil, cynical man but he has a tactic and it is working so far. He spray hoses lies and disinformation every day, he has his scapegoats, people of color and the poor, that he tee's up in his twiiter feed for blame and there is a certain portion of our country that responds to it. What can we do? This paper and other networks needs to point out his lies, evry day and quit calling it wrong info. And they need to do it tirelessly in the same manner that Trump tweets it out. For example, the Puerto Rico headline should have been "Once again Trump LIES about Puerto Rico Aid. The first graph should give the facts, exposing his lies. And it has to be done every day. Trump counts on the press and network TV getting tired of saying the same thing everyday but he is relentless in his lying. The 2020 candidates should use their twitter feeds and have a Trump lie of the day" section and point them out in relentless fashion. Trump won't stop, so we can't either.
toom (somewhere)
Tis column has too much logic and factual information to impress a person like Trump, or his voters. A better approach is to say "Trump is a fake. He tells us he is rich, but won't show his tax returns. These prove he is not rich, but has huge debts. Trump claims he will help the workers. Has he? How about that big tax cut you workers got. Simply put: Are you Trump voters who are workers, and not Wall Street millionaires, better off now than when Trump was elected? I say "NO!" And I challenge Trump to prove me wrong.
bobert (stl)
So what does FEMA have to say about all this corruption and incompetence? They are the ones doling out the aid. I believe most of the funds were spent repairing the grid, which started with questionable (at best) contract with Zinke's buddies from MT. Another unproven attack on the truth by trump.
Bette The Fret (Denver)
I envy Puerto Rico. Our leader is both incompetent and corrupt.
R.G. Frano (NY, NY)
Re: "...The logic seems to go that everyone is better off, even minorities, when white people are calling the shots..." Trump's overt racism, re P.R., is merely one MORE 'item' in a whole disgusting 'list' of 'items'! ...Release Trumpster's tax-data, and the Mueller Rpt., (minus 'sources / methods'!), forthwith!
markd (michigan)
What have white people been responsible for besides slavery, the Civil War, two world wars, systemic racism, gun love, the collapse of our economy, the overthrow of numerous governments, multiple current wars and a major political party whose leader doesn't know where his father was born, thinks electricity stops when the wind doesn't blow and can't pronounce origin. Besides that I mean.
SDprime (Portland, Oregon)
'He tweeted that Puerto Rico’s government “can’t do anything right” and that the island’s politicians are “incompetent or corrupt” and only “complain and ask for more money,” which they spend “foolishly or corruptly, & only take from USA.” He specifically called the mayor of San Juan “crazed and incompetent.”' --funny how consistent he is at accusing others of his faults, characteristics and actions.
Michael (Washington DC)
Tragic. I grew up in South Africa, white. The Triumpian rhetoric about the inability of minorities to manage their affairs as well as the white man takes me back to the rhetoric of apartheid. Next we'll be hearing proposals to create separate walled enclaves where the white man can live free of these pesky natives.
Beachbum (Paris)
The part that also is the massive tell is "so little appreciation". You're supposed to grease his palm and kiss his ring for the privilege of having him spit on you. I don't understand that the proud Americans I grew up with continue to condone this behaviour and bow and scrape to it.
Justalurker (NC)
Welcome back, Mr. Blow! You have been missed.
Charlesbalpha (Atlanta)
I saw WEST SIDE STORY last fall. The line that got the most applause was "Nobody knows in America / Puerto Rico's in America!"
John Grillo (Edgewater, MD)
It should come as no surprise whatsoever that a young Donald, who along with his father Fred refused to consider Black and Brown Americans as humanly fit to rent their apartments in New York, would continue into his later adulthood to harbor and act upon this racist, bigoted worldview. The dinner conversation at the Trump manse in Queens must have had its full share of “Archie Bunker” banter.
Mur (USA)
the crass ignorance and arrogance (they often go together) of this mediocre man are equal only to his ineptitude and hypocrisy. A lazy golf player that spend millions a week of taxpayer money after having critizized Mr. Obama for playing occasionally. He is full of hate and insecurities like his supporters. One good read in this context and the tragic birth of the nazism is the Wilhelm Reich's book, "Lists, little man". Strongly recommended.
Sports Medicine (Staten Island)
One little tid bit Blow leaves out - Puerto Ricans dont pay any federal income taxes. So until they do, stop demanding we take care of you. Its offensive.
justpaul (sf)
High schools need to teach the Jones Act and put it in context with current political dialogues. Great op-ed.
Helvius (NJ)
I am not proud that I reached adulthood without a basic understanding of the U.S.'s relationship with territories until reading "How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States" by Daniel Immerwahr. (It's not a happy story--and, obviously, not over.)
LdeTorquemada (Crans)
Did you know that Ponce de Leon left from Puerto Rico to discover Florida? That means that the crew on that ship that settled Florida, where Trump now holds property, came from Puerto Rico. Trump does not know that, of course, because he knows little of the oranges of anything in the world.
John (San Francisco, CA)
Great article! If Trump is The Almighty's Messenger, then I have a message for him (Trump): Depart from me immediately!
Kevin O'Keefe (NYC)
It's incredibly diffucult for President T to keep up his 100-lies-a- day regimen. Some days he surpasses even his own ignominious self.
Soo (NYC)
I loved President Obama. I hate Trump who is destroying my country. That's all.
Bill (Terrace, BC)
Trump has built his entire political career on mocking the idea that people of color are competent to be president, governor, or to be political leaders generally. This is a position held by racists for over 150 years. But of course he's not a racist. Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, etc.
Sports Medicine (Staten Island)
@Bill Hes got Herman Cain primed up and ready to be a Fed governor. Its all over the news. So, basically, youre wrong.
Nathaniel Brown (Edmonds, Washington)
“incompetent or corrupt” “crazed and incompetent” Interesting irony, given the source...
sdavidc9 (Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut)
Robert E. Lee saw slavery as a necessary discipline and instruction that would lead the blacks to and prepare them for better things. Since it was unthinkable to him that these better things would include freedom, they must have been being prepared to be better slaves. The incoherence of this understanding is mind-boggling.
Lock Him Up (Columbus, Ohio)
There are a few consistent themes with trump. Mr. Blow has nailed some of them here. He is consistently paternalistic and bigoted toward people of other races. Puerto Rico deserves help after a catastrophic storm, end of story. Trademark (TRUMP)racism. The fact he doesn't recognize Puerto Rico is part of the US is also consistent with his behaviors. Trademark (TRUMP)ignorance. His most consistent behavior is being a bully. Even today with Mexico, he basically said "Don't dare me to put tariffs on autos, don't you dare me, I'll do it, you know I don't play around." Trademark (TRUMP)bullying. There are more bad behaviors that he has put the trump brand on. Time to move him out of the WH, and provide Puerto Rico with the aid they need.
MWA (nyc)
On top of everything Mr. Blow mentions, it's laughable that Trump should look down his nose at PR Gov. Ricardo Rossello. I'm not a fan of his party or his father, but he is a brilliant and respectable leader. He was a child prodigy of sorts, excelling in math and athletics (tennis, if I recall correctly). Then he got a BS from MIT and then a PhD in biomedical engineering from U of Michigan. He went on to have great success in stem cell research. All this prior to entering public life and being elected governor in his 30s. He's not perfect, but Rossello has dignity and is truly concerned with governing the island - a daunting task for anyone at this point in its history. Trump's disdain for him and minority leadership in general is absurd when compared to his own abject failure as businessman and politician.
R.G. Frano (NY, NY)
Re: "...He was a child prodigy of sorts, excelling in math and athletics (tennis, if I recall correctly). Then he got a BS from MIT and then a PhD in biomedical engineering from U of Michigan. He went on to have great success in stem cell research..." {@MWA} ...Contrast PR Gov. Ricardo Rossello's impressive resume / information with the president's demand(s): ..., that NONE of his ('Admiral BoneSpur's...), school records from high school to the most recent, (alleged), '.edu' experience(s) EVER see the light, 'O, day... ...under, threat of civil retaliation, no less, L.O.L.!!
@MWA The political arena is littered with many individuals with impressive CVs who failed to become good leaders and stewards. Rossello is clearly a "good student" type, but these individuals do not necessarily make the best leaders, just as the best athletes do not necessarily make the best coaches.
holmes (nyc)
Completely convinced the president is looking in the mirror when spewing negative characteristics against people of color. Everything he says or does is only a distraction because he hasn't a clue how to govern. He plays 3 card monty with us, and we haven't found a way out! Yet. This country has been marking time in place since he's been in office. The fear is once he's gone, the mess left behind may be worse than a hurricane and tsunami combined.
REM (Olathe, KS)
U.S. to Puerto Rico: You're American citizens, so put your boots on and go fight in WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq. Puerto Rico to U.S.: We need help, our island was destroyed by a hurricane and 3,000 have died. U.S.: That wasn't a real tragedy. You're a corrupt country and you don't need any more aid. The Jones Act is here to stay. Here's some paper towels.
ART (Athens, GA)
@REM You, and the two readers that agree with you are not aware that Puerto Ricans have been drafted and now volunteer for the military since the United States took Puerto Rico from Spain in 1898 for its military strategic geographical location. And what are the paper towels for? Hmmm... Many Puerto Ricans have died for this country. Stop insulting them. Did you volunteer to fight for those wars?
Carter Joseph (Atlanta)
Every time Trump speaks he disproves the concept of white supremacy.
Charlesbalpha (Atlanta)
@Carter Joseph Trump reminds me of a line I read in s satirical 1930s novel: "Amazing. He thinks somebody ELSE is inferior!"
stb321 (San Francisco)
Mr Trump. - - may we please see your father's birth certificate?
The Chief from Cali (Port Hueneme Calif.)
@stb321 His daddy’s from the Bronx and he ain’t got no German Title to his name
Jenifer (Issaquah)
All true but with trump it may be even simpler than that. He also hates California and threatened to cut off their aide as well. They have lots of brown people but so does Houston and he loves them. For trump it's about what you can do for him and in politics that's vote. Puerto Ricans can't vote and Californians mostly vote Democrat and especially last November when the GOP was throttled. The way he frames the insults are actually fairly typical for men of his type.
The Chief from Cali (Port Hueneme Calif.)
@Jenifer Yeah he’s the guy who complains about Mexicans not learning English when he can’t get his yard cleaned
Pottree (Joshua Tree)
disclosure: I am not now nor have I ever been black. therefore, it is without any personal interest that I can say Mr. Blow is exactly right. but as an American, I can say I am digusted, but not surprised, by President Trump. who knows if he himself believes half the things he says, because he clearly has other motivations than expression or truth. but there is no doubt that the way he won nomination and then election in the Electoral College, and the popular vote primarily in whiter districts, shows that his expressed neanderthal racial attitudes mirror those of his base, and appealing to those prejudices is what got him into the White House, by hook or by crook.
RNS (Piedmont Quebec Canada)
If PR wants the relief they so desperately need the whole population should threaten to move to the mainland. Preferably to swing states. And promise that the first thing they'll do on arriving is register to vote. That should do it.
Benjo (Florida)
Here in Florida, a swing state, that is already happening. Between their ongoing economic problems and the recent natural disasters, we have received upwards of a million Puerto Rican immigrants in the past 10 years. I live amongst them and you don't hear me complaining. They tend to be hard-working families who don't cause trouble. I do get a little tired of the shuffle beat which is exactly the same in all of their contemporary dance music, but it's not like EDM pop beats are that varied and interesting.
NYC Moderate (NYC)
Coming from a non-white person: Trump is awful but PR has been epically mis-managed by single party rule. One cannot in any meaningful way blame DC for the majority of what's happened there. Everyone has seen the fiscal train wreck coming and it's possible that the hurricane actually helps PR get its house in order.
Cody McCall (tacoma)
Puerto Rico voted, not for Trump, but for Rubio in the GOP primary. Trump does not forget. He does not forgive. Plus, as Trump found out to his chagrin during his one and only visit, it's full of Puerto Ricans!
Jeff Atkinson (Gainesville, GA)
Reading between his lines, Mr. Blow seems to realize something many delusional Democrats do not: The behavior of Trump's people is not a function of Trump but rather Trump's behavior is a function of his people. He is their creature with a particular talent for knowing what they want of him.
Charles Blow is right on some things and wrong on others. The history of civilization is a history of Western Europe’s conquest and colonization of every continent. This process is what some call modernization, along with all its attendant benefits and pitfalls. And yes, it is paternalistic. But Trump, despicable as he is, is not entirely wrong in his characterization of Africa and Latin America. Decolonization in these regions did not witness an efflorescence of infrastructure, innovation, and culture, but rather the opposite, as millions remain mired in poverty, vulnerable to the whims of strongmen. Think huts and shacks instead of bungalows and estates. Why cannot black South African farmers feed the nation? Because they need Boer knowhow and technology. Blacks, Indians, and whites relate to the natural world and the realm of ideas in fundamentally different ways. Culture and education are the great equalizers. Mr. Blow is as much an ideologue as Trump, but from the opposite side. He just does not see it that way.
inter nos (naples fl)
trump said that Puerto Rico Government can’t do anything right . Look who is talking ?
ARSLAQ AL KABIR (al wadin al Champlain)
Though I agree with much of which Mr. Blow has written, his use of the marker "Hispanic" troubles me. Far as I know, Hispanic originated in the Census Bureau itself in the 70's or thereabouts, as a shortcut to avoid having to record the countries of origin of the waves Mexican and Central American immigrants attempting to cross our southern border in those times. Its application to Puerto Ricans, whom Congress made US citizens by dint of the Jones Act in 1917, is difficult to understand. Aren't Puerto Ricans Americans, despite their complexion or the language they speak? Equally problematic is Hispanic's popular synonym, "Latino," a moniker apparently contrived by a gaggle of woolly-headed academics chasing after bragging rights. I once asked about Latino's origins, significance and so forth, and learned that Latino is preferred because it's devoid of "imperialist connotations." Say, what? Latino comes from Latin, the language of the Romans, one of the world's greatest empires!
Ludwig (New York)
a) He tweeted that Puerto Rico’s government “can’t do anything right” and that the island’s politicians are “incompetent or corrupt” and only “complain and ask for more money,” which they spend “foolishly or corruptly, & only take from USA.” He specifically called the mayor of San Juan “crazed and incompetent.” b) Point of fact: Puerto Rico is part of the United States. It is a territory. Its citizens are U.S. citizens. But actually a) and b) are quite consistent are they not? Of course I do not know whether a) is true or Trump is merely sounding off. I do have a sense that Puerto Rico is not governed very well, but it is only a sense. In any case, your b) is not actually a rejoinder to a). The NYT often says negative things about the red states, and no one responds by pointing out that people who live in red states are, for the most part, US citizens.
Leonard (Lafayette, IN)
It would fitting if our President and Vice-President were voted out of office in favor of an African-American woman and a gay man. I can think of two candidates who are much more qualified to lead this country than our two present leaders.
Katie (Oregon)
I often feel like I need a shower when one of Trumps tweets is read on the news. I can only shake my head in shame and wonder, that we have come to this.
stephen john (canada)
I'd like to use one of my remaining free articles to say thank you for those free articles - that I've enjoyed the opportunity.
Patricia Radice (Detroit)
Trump's rhetoric about brown people, especially those fleeing the monstrous conditions in several South American countries, is reminiscent of the anti-ethnic rhetoric a maniacal soon-to-be-leader was spouting in Germany in the 1930s. Trump's treatment of the brown people is similar, too, with what appears to be internment camps at the southern U.S. border. His xenophobic misanthropic words and actions need to be reigned in. The question is, does Congress have the political will to do so?
Arnie Tracey (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)
Donald Trump has no empathy, no moral compass. However he is in possession of a heart of darkness, not unlike King Leopold II's whose approach to blacks in the Belgian Congo was similar to Mr. Trumps to Puerto Ricans. Trump is the personification of the white male id. For women, too.
The Observer (In fair Verona, where we lay our scene)
Charles Blow’s lie-filled opinion columns about Pres. Trump over the past two years continue a pattern of Charles’ that mirrors a method that propagandists have used throughout American history. Particularly present since the 2016 election, this method involves proclaiming that Republicans lack the character and capacity to create honest government, and therefore Trump, any friends of his, and anyone NOT included in the D.C. culture of doing business have no right to run for federal office. Just as Eric Holder’s inspectors of local police departments were free to criticize the non-progressives in Ferguson, MO, Pres. Trump remains free to criticize gross mis-management of money and other resources. Too much of the emergency supplies given Puerto Rico were wasted after that storm.
Andy (Honolulu, HI)
"Still, that doesn’t fully account for the particular consistency with which he attacks minority leaders and minority-led entities as inadequate, ineffective and incompetent." "Even majority-black and majority-brown countries around the globe have been condemned and dismissed by Trump in this way." YET (here comes the qualifiers) "he has lobbed praise at strongmen — mostly in Europe and Asia — for being great leaders. Think Russia and North Korea." Mr. Blow, you say that "for all minorities in America, the subjugation continues", however I get a strong sense from this opinion piece of you throwing your Asian and Asian- American allies under the freedom ride because you may or may not believe we are full partners with you in this great American struggle for equality (especially those of us who were, as I was, branded by a Western name upon arrival in this country, seeking mercy and compassion from death, torture & persecution ourselves)... Never mind the fact that many of my asian sisters seeking mercy and compassion themselves are still regularly kept locked up out of the sun for the purposes of sexual coercion in this nation, as what has been revealed in the so- called "Sunshine State" recently... but I guess that's all just "white slavery" to you and so doesn't count, huh, Mr. Blow? Sigh, as an exceedingly rare white president who truly seemed to have cared about the treatment of all minorities once said... "a house divided against itself cannot stand."
Occupy Government (Oakland)
The Trump Administration's initial response to the hurricanes in Puerto Rico was to make a killing. Flawed contracts for Trump insiders led the way, until they were caught and re-negotiated. Just a waste of time and money. But the real shortcoming was restringing power lines on poles, to get blown down by the next storm. Those lines should have been buried, thus protecting the island from major power outages in the future. Instead, Donald wanted to save a few bucks. Have another roll of paper towels.
RichardHead (Mill Valley ca)
His base thinks PR folks are foreigners and are like immigrants and welfare folks. They love him to bash and insult them. He knows this and it is part of his appeal.The more we liberals respond the more credit he gets from his supporters. He knows that attacking all the "others" is what got him the Presidency.
FoxyVil (New York)
While I appreciate greatly how Mr. Blow addresses the latest idiocies that the current squatter in the White House spouts, a significant context is lost here: The racial components notwithstanding, this is a problem of colonialism. Puerto Rico’s status as a US colony is largely denied and masked in the US so that Puerto Ricans themselves only come into focus in extraordinary situations. As an everyday matter, PR’s ills stem from its coloniality and can historically be traced back to the exploitative relationship it has suffered under US rule. Scratch any problematic instance or development and, historically, one finds the hand of the US or of its public or private interests. Indeed, as much is proved by many of the comments here as people opine about a complex history through this denial and from a place of ignorance. Lamentably, due to this colonial history and the hegemonic impact it has wrought among the colonized, Puerto Rican’s themselves are prone to the same sort of historical amnesia and ideological subjugation that characterize the US.
Stephen Merritt (Gainesville)
It's so sad that Mr. Blow even needs to say these things. But of course he does need to (thank you, Mr. Blow, for setting out your points so clearly). The problem isn't that we don't have people like Mr. Blow to remind us of the truth. The problem is the large number of people who don't want to hear it. On top of which, sad to say, it's so much easier to ignore an op-ed column than a video clip that gets played all over cable and the internet, or even a presidential tweet that's repeated everywhere.
Ken (Los Altos)
I lived in Puerto Rico from 1989 to 1994 where I started a medical device company. Even back then, the island's electrical grid was so unreliable that most manufacturing plants had their own generator so they could keep their plants running during the frequent power outages. The electric utility, owned and operated by the government of Puerto Rico, under both major parties, has been deteriorating for decades. Now, after a hurricane damaged the electrical grid beyond repair, Puerto Rico's government would like U.S. taxpayers to pay to restore their system. It does not make sense to restore the system to the poor condition it was in before the hurricane. After decades of neglect, the system needs to be completely rebuilt. I think the U.S. should provide the money to repair the damage caused by the hurricane and let Puerto Rico decide whether to repair their system, or add enough money to the pot to completely rebuild.
InfinteObserver (TN)
Trump White Supremacist values are hardly new to those who have followed his career.
vbering (Pullman WA)
Trump is a racist. Mr Blow, we get that. Going over that is kind of like going over the multiplication table again once you've mastered number theory. But the leaders of Puerto Rico are indeed incompetent dunderheads. So there's that. True, true, and unrelated. In addition, Trump is way, way past racism. The man is a danger to humanity--white, black, pink, blue--you name it.
Butterfly (NYC)
@vbering It bears repeating. OVER and OVER and OVER again. Trump repeats his lies constantly so the sane side must as well. Don't you think?
Howard Eddy (Quebec)
Trump believes in a world run by the Aryan Master Race. It screams from his words whenever he has to deal with people of colour, particularly those who don't lick his boots. It shines from his remarks about 'good people on both sides' and his continuous moral false equivalencies. Puerto Ricans are just accidental beneficiaries of his racial views. He doesn't accept they are really Americans. They vote the wrong way, many speak another language, and many are brown. They don't look like Germans or Norwegians. So they are incapable of self-government without Daddy Donald's guidance.
Butterfly (NYC)
@Howard Eddy What guidance? He doesn't guide. He criticizes NASTILY. He insults. That's not guidance. Throwing rolls of paper towels at people is not guidance.
slater65 (utah)
who should be left to suffer. that's the feeling toward people who have dark skin. how much more racist can IT be.Just because they voted against you, 63 million people voted against IT.
toby (PA)
Yes, quite right, but you know that the reason for this race hysteria, which has reduced the Republican party to a one-issue organization (and which also fuels the Brexit mess), is the male, white Anglo Saxon's fear, justifiable, I'd say, that he is losing control, losing dominance to non-whites. My question is whether he will gracefully cede his dominance or destroy the country. BTW, the same process, that of increasing dominance by non-whites, is also occurring in Christianity. But, that's another very interesting story.
Aroch (Australia)
It is a good article. And it could have been better if it would have referred to the damage perpetuated by the longstanding US tradition of racially stereotyping Puerto Ricans. In this regard, I refer to Yarimar Bonilla’s brilliant article in the Washington Post Racism is universally wrong and unacceptable. It is that plain and simple. And the victims of racism shouldn’t have to say or prove anything else. No more ancillary argumentation or rhetoric on citizenship should be required. Racism is universally wrong and unacceptable. The fact that as Puerto Ricans we are US citizens by virtue of being born in a territory of the United States and that we are still treated as second class citizens is shocking and unacceptable. And above all, we should all be deeply concerned about the vestigial vortex of racism that still manages to churn its poison in the US and the rest of the World. That’s the real worry.
Sherry (Boston)
What a powerful, and spot-on manifesto! Out to dinner with my husband last night, I overheard a woman say, "Well, I'm a Republican, so yes, I support it." I don't know what she was talking about since I didn't hear the rest of her conversation nor the context with which she made her conclusion. It did strike me though that in this Age of Trump, how if I were a decent Republican, I'd be hesitant to announce anything about my affiliation publicly. Otherwise, I'd be lumped in with the Trumpian ilk. That's what I don't get; Republicans have aligned themselves with this despot and will proudly shout it from the rooftops. Maybe these people that I'd like to believe are decent Americans except for being complicit by supporting the Republican Party, and therefore Trump's agenda aren't actually decent at all. There in lies the rub.
AG (Calgary, Canada)
In the 1970s I was interviewed for, and granted, a US Green Card. If, during that interview, I had declared to the Immigration officers that my father was born in Norway, I would probably have been incarcerated or deported back to India. Trump's dad born in Germany? Either Trump is trying to "bait" the media (which seems unlikely for this established, pathological liar) or he is INSANE. It's time to welcome Mike Pence to the White House, albeit for only a temporary stay. AG Canada
Jacob Sommer (Medford, MA)
I am so tired of so many white guys ignoring the talents, skills and humanity of people who aren't white guys. And I say this as a white guy. Partnership beats pugilism when it comes to building. We've taken a giant step backward; I want us to move forward again.
R. K. F. (USA)
Such a touchy topic race is. I remember growing up in a racially mixed neighborhood in the 1960's and being jumped by gangs of kids from all backgrounds. Neredowells are like M&Ms, they come in all colors. So are good Americans. They come in all colors too. That's about as simple as I can make it.
Fred (Bayside)
Excellent column, full of support for your contention.
vishmael (madison, wi)
As others have noted here, racism and Trumptatorship aside, Mr. Blow probably owes readers and even himself a more critical examination of the corruption endemic to Puerto Rico's political economy, going back decades, enriching some few while allowing broad swaths of neglect to the island's infrastructure, this shoddy house of cards now painfully and for some fatally exposed by the natural - as opposed to man-made - disaster of the latest hurricane.
Eric (Westchester, NY)
David, I welcome you and am gratified that you're coming around to what many deride as liberal 'wokeness'. From where I sit, right-wing politicians have been using more or less the same playbook to dismantle the safety net since before I was born. It's just that Trump's crudeness and complete lack of empathy have exposed the policy for what it is, rather than obscure it through doublespeak. You write that: "Trump made his point clear: The mismanagement and incompetence of these brown people amount to stealing resources from these white people. " Is that not the exact same rationale that Reagan used to dismantle the welfare state? That 'Cadillac driving welfare queens' were fraudulently soaking up all the benefits and leaving little left for the common man. And in Nixon's drug war before that? Associate the black community (and the antiwar left) with drug abuse and social decay as a predicate to delegitimizing and ultimately imprisoning vast numbers of people. Trump is not an outlier in right wing politicians, he's the buffoonish apotheosis of a politics that you point out stretches back to reconstruction. If his behavior offends your sensibilities it's because he's too careless or ignorant to dress it up as anything noble, not because he's categorically different than what came before him.
Eric (Westchester, NY)
@Eric Mea Culpa here. I was reading a David Brooks column in another tab and confused the two. Addressed this comment to the wrong author!
Bill Prange (Californiia)
I am often so distracted by the name calling of this president that it's challenging to drill deep on the worthier issues presented by Charles Blow and his colleagues. I'm still reeling from a man who calls others a pencil neck, crazed, nasty, disgusting, a total failure, a whiny loser, and other bullying slurs that would get a middle school kid benched, or even expelled. Worse, his unchecked behavior says a little about him - a narcissist - and volumes about us. At least once a day I shake my head and ask myself 'how can this be?'
Jason Galbraith (Little Elm, Texas)
Not many people have a list of the 7 worst Presidents in American history. I like yours though. To me Tyler is the worst of all. His actions during the Civil War constitute treason.
Steve Kennedy (Deer Park, Texas)
Wow. I knew racism was on Mr. Trump's (long) list of personality disorders, but putting all this in one writeup really puts it in the spotlight. I'm starting to think George Will was too kind when he described Mr. Trump as a "... sad, embarrassing wreck of a man ... "
BC (N. Cal)
So Puerto Rico's "politicians are “incompetent or corrupt” and only “complain and ask for more money,” which they spend “foolishly or corruptly". So says the man who has gone bankrupt using other peoples money 6 or seven times.
Longestaffe (Pickering)
Donald Trump is a white supremacist, certainly. And the quotations of his verbiage here reveal another part of his identity. In his attacks on others with words such as "incompetent and corrupt", "crazed", "sick", "weak", "horrible attitude", and -- oh, brother -- "looks and sounds ridiculous", you can observe his mind's eye flinching at what it sees in the mind's mirror and trying desperately to drive those humiliating visions out and away, into the world of his betters. Donald Trump is a white supremacist, and yet he's not a white man himself. He's a transparent one.
LEFisher (USA)
"Trump wants to dictate who is worthy of assistance and who should be allowed to suffer." And who is really American… . As opposed to "born in a wonderful place in Germany" or Slovenia… & all brought to the USA via "chain migration"… .
Dave McCammon (Portland, OR)
What is Trump thinking when he looks at the chairs of the house committees that are investigating him and sees several black faces - some of whom he has insulted in the past.
Pottree (Joshua Tree)
he is thinking he will prevail, as he always has, because he is just basically better in every way than anyone else. and if he says it loudly enough, and frequently enough, he can always find enough suckers to believe and support him to keep on winning.
Dean Browning Webb, Attorney at Law (Vancouver, WA)
The Republican Party and 45 aggressively promote and fully embrace their clearly motivated policy of persistently demonizing, degrading, diminishing, and denigrating racial and ethnic minorities' accomplishments, intellect, competency, and abilities. Mr. Blow's especially articulated opinion revealing this caustically driven agenda of racial and ethnic subjugation attributable to the fallacious belief that 45 and the GOP are better educated and racially superior to know what black and brown people should do, if they only would 'stay in their place.' Make no mistake about it. 45 prides himself by enlisting outspoken racial demagogues stridently aligned with the GOP to drive this point home. Glorifying Andrew Jackson's racially based eradication of Native Americans equals Woodrow Wilson's approval of the screening of "The Birth of A Nation" at the White House to advance their racial superiority agenda. And of course 45 and the GOP always tout the few black and brown Republican supporters to prove their 'some of my best friends' defense. This incipiently bred campaign intended to engender racial internecine reinforces the universal negative image of the Republicans because they refuse to challenge 45's grotesque blatant racism for fear the usual twitter tirade trouncing. 45 and the GOP are synonymous and mutually dependent upon each other to remind Caucasian voters they are better and more worthy than 'those people.' GOP/45 pride themselves playing the race card. Race matters.
Maurits (Zurich)
"The logic seems to go that everyone is better off, even minorities, when white people are calling the shots. " well, in th epast perhaps not. Everyone had a chance to dominate the globe or at least a part of it. but over the last 500 years. Yes, the world reflects that. Is telling it like it is too horrible for the sentive and offended people out there? tough. Maye the Chinese will be next. Then maybe indians. Then Africa may rise up. But now. "The logic seems to go that everyone is better off, even minorities, when white people are calling the shots. " is broadly correct.
BC (Maine)
Puerto Ricans can't vote in presidential elections. No need for Trump to treat them as Americans. Plus, he seems to relish kicking anyone who is down. He's also undoubtedly looking for money to fund his wall so he can boast about protecting the USA from a Hispanic invasion.
Andy (Salt Lake City, Utah)
The German birth thing is truly bizarre. However, I'm beginning to suspect the anecdote is something of a dog whistle to white supremacists. Hear me out. Apparently Fred C. Trump's parents, Elizabeth and Fredrick, were legitimately attempting to re-establish residency in Bavaria at the time of Fred's conception. They failed. They bordered a ship to New York in July 1905. Fred was born in October. So Fred was not born in Germany for want of trying. His American citizenship was actually a mistake. Let's imagine for a moment Fred was born in Germany in October 1905 though. That would make him an adolescent participant in WWI, and more importantly, a full grown Bavarian adult during Hitler's ascendancy. For those who don't know Bavaria, specifically Nuremburg, is also the symbolic motherland of the Third Reich. That's why "Triumph of the Will" was filmed there. That's also why the Allies held the post-war trials there. It was a meaningful and unsubtle rebuke to all Nazi sympathizers. Taken in this context, Trump lying about his father being born in Germany seems to me like a shout out. He's telling white supremacists he's of Aryan descent. Not that he likes modern Germany under Merkel.
Pottree (Joshua Tree)
good theory. but you give President Trump too much credit for intrigue and forethought by half. his henchmen, however, stage his rallies as a bargain basement shot for shot copy of Triumph of the Will, and not by coincidence, either.
JayK (CT)
This thing with Trump insisting that his father was born in Germany when that is demonstrably false is flabbergasting. Why lie about that? Is it some kind of cryptic signal to his base, or a frivolous, silly attempt at "outreach" to Germany? Simply bizarre.
Pottree (Joshua Tree)
Trump may have meant not Fredrick, but Freidrich, his grandfather, who was born in Germany and made money running a bordello in Alaska during the gold rush. it may have been a simple mistake caused by never listening to anyone else. or not.
Harding Dawson (New York)
Painfully on target. Nobody has chronicled this era of rubbish as profoundly as you have. We are indeed living in a time of disgrace and our only saving grace is that our press still seems to be free.
Ralph (NYC)
Puerto Rico is a defined as a Commonwealth (English) and Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico (Spanish), not a territory. For an account of the history of Puerto Rico's relationship with the US Government, see "How to Hide an Empire" by Daniel Immerwahr.
Jerry (Orange County, CA)
Charles, thanks for highlighting this pernicious and odious theme in our body politic. You have clarified it as few others could.
Lisa Rigge (Pleasanton California)
It’s disparaging to have a president who continually needs to have his tweets and quotes corrected. Whether Trump lies purposely or not (his father was born in Germany), the focus remains on him and much energy and time and words are used to set the matters straight. Most of us know not to take him seriously anymore, and those who haven’t come to this conclusion will always believe the lies he spews. Perhaps news organizations and opinion writers need to stop blabbering about all his bluster and focus on other issues such as legislature being written in the House, McConnell’s weakening of our democracy, healthcare, or advances being made (if any) on getting those with improper security clearances out of the WH. Position or negative, the continual focus on this man will only serve to get him re-elected because the real issues are not being addressed strongly and widely enough for voters to realize they have an important reason to vote in 2020.
Magan (Fort Lauderdale)
How many ways can Donald Trump show the world he is a bigoted, selfish, vindictive pathetic human being?
Malcolm (USA)
Big surprise, 45 is totally racist. We knew thus already. Now what?
TDHawkes (Eugene, Oregon)
The only people who are better off with elite white males calling the shots are elite white males.
FunkyIrishman (member of the resistance)
Puerto Rico, along with the District of Columbia deserve full statehood, with all of its associated rights and representation in government. Full Stop. Every argument BEFORE that act remains a moot point, because it is the federal government that is governing (whether that is corruptly is another argument) by dictating what their budget will be, or what help they get in the aftermath of a natural disaster. I would submit the natural disaster IS that federal governing. We keep having the same argument over and over again - especially in lieu of demographics which are going to make the United States a majority minority country quite soon. We are witnessing the last throws of a white privileged backlash, that are doing everything in their power to denounce, marginalize or destroy any opposition to said power. The changeover WILL happen. It is only a matter of time. It will happen this election or by the next. Count on it.
Beliavsky (Boston)
The countries that I could imagine living in, besides the U.S., are Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Western Europe, and Singapore. If Trump believes that countries run by blacks and Hispanics are not run well, is he wrong?
Philip (Seattle)
Western Europe is not a country. Hispanic refers to someone from a Spanish speaking country, with Spain being the number one Spanish speaking country. Singapore is a tightly controlled city-state Malaysia allows to exist. Canada is a great example of country embracing immigrants from around the world, even Americans, but “Trumpers need not apply”.
Alexander (Boston)
Totally agree with the Mr. Blow! If you look at the PR stats he cites PR 99 percent Hispanic among which is % of the population in the labor force: men and women combined it is only 40% below the estimated needed to maintain a modern society with social benefits. It needs to be at least 45% and better if half the population is doing taxable work.
Rhporter (Virginia)
Charles you are finally stepping up your game. Good article
Toadhollow (Upstate)
Much of Trump's rage towards Puerto Rico stems from his anger at Carmen Yulín Cruz, the Mayor of San Juan, for being female, a Democrat, and standing up to him.
Gordon Alderink (Grand Rapids, MI)
As horrible as Trump is, he is just a more blatant version of a mass of Americans going back to the founding of the US. It is difficult to change centuries of bigotry.
YabbaDabba. Do (Stateside)
To the author: Don't dismiss or minimize the white Christian supremacy in Trump's vitriol about Bernie Sanders (whose has Jewish heritage) or about Hillary Clinton and, it should be pointed out, Carly Fiorina. Central to the despicable "supremacy" Trump has aligned himself with and probably grew up with is oppression of women and girls as well as oppression or obliteration of people with Jewish heritage.
Dear Charles M. Blow, EXCELLENT article! It is staggering how much history you pour into your work! I agree with your points and know that there was a much better USA that has been much diminished by the tRump and REPtilian party. I know you would never write those butchered words but they epitomize how I feel.
Elizabeth (Roslyn, NY)
Donald Trump is a stone cold racist. It's one of the few things he talks about honestly. He doesn't mince his words. He and his white supremacist followers have been on the warpath since a black man was elected to the highest office in the land. Perhaps, in their view, the most horrendous thing to have happened in America since the south lost the civil war. Trump's dismissive and hostile reaction to the hurricane disaster in Puerto Rico is unfortunately a natural and honest response from him. Instead of hurricane disaster relief, Trump would rather use PR as another racist and divisive talking point to please his base. It works for him. Every. Single. Time. And as an added bonus, Trump gets to dictate who will suffer and who won't. He gets to dictate who will succeed and who won't. Our POTUS gets off on cruelty and punishment and retribution. And his base loves that too.
Charles Stockwell (NY)
I have avoided saying this for two years now out of fairness to others but now I cannot wait anymore. Trump is the result you get when you let uninformed hillbillies to close to the voting urn. Ignorance will destroy the United States if it is allowed to continue. U.S. History is rife with rampant racism and terror against Africans and Native Americans. In the middle ages in Europe the wealthy ruling class gave the serfs the witches (mostly female) as the boogeyman. The masses then proceeded to torture and kill millions to appease their lords. The last 300 years of American History are not much different.
sceptic (Arkansas)
We all know that Trump engages in projection on a regular basis, but it is still amazing how well his own words describe himself. As in ......“sick,” “weak,” “incompetent leader” with a “horrible attitude” who “looks and sounds so ridiculous,” “has disastrous judgment,” is “a total failure” and was “perhaps the worst president in the history of the United States!” Deep down, he knows this about himself and recoils in horror.
Dwight McFee (Toronto)
Thank you for the history. Shameless in America.
Glen (Texas)
Add Saudi Arabia and the Phillippines to the list of countries whose leaders Trump is jealous of for their absolute power and control over the citizenry. I find it surprising he wants to cut off funding to the despots whose Central American nations' citizens are leaving by the throng-load (which also brings me to puzzle over why they want to come to yet another country run by someone who's a wannabe of the leaders of the places they just left). Trump needs to put up posters at every possible point where people enter this country, be it from overseas or Canada or Mexico, saying: To enter you must be at least 5'10" tall, female, with an Eastern European accent, slender and able to entertain guests at my properties and, oh yeah, white. All others can just go back where you came from.
N. Smith (New York City)
When Donald Trump stepped off Air Force One in a hurricane and flood-ravaged Puerto Rico and started throwing paper towels at the assembled crowd, is all you need to know about his stance toward Puerto Rico -- of which he had to be reminded is actually part of the United States.
Moehoward (The Final Prophet)
the island’s politicians are “incompetent or corrupt” and only “complain and ask for more money,” which they spend “foolishly or corruptly, ...... He specifically called the mayor of San Juan “crazed and incompetent.” Well, it's clear that Trump projects his worst character faults onto everyone else. He's incompetent AND corrupt. He only complains as he demands more money. He, himself is crazed and incompetent.
Allentown (Buffalo)
Yes, Donald Trump is racist. Yes, lot of his white voters are driven by racism. Yes, America's history is a wretched one. But again, no solution is offered here. No hope is suggested. Just dismay and rage. It's a familiar tone. We see it in the cult of Trump as well. ...The broken record of Blow continues. While I can't wait for DJT to leave office, I'm going to point out something important that happened the other day: "Lori Lightfoot won a resounding victory Tuesday night to become both the first African-American woman and openly gay person elected mayor of Chicago" Beautiful. I remain driven by hope that our country will be okay.
Milton Lewis (Hamilton Ontario)
Trump’s usual insulting behavior towards white political opponents takes a quantum leap when dealing with political opponents of color. His public contempt for Obama was racially motivated and his abusive treatment of elected officials in PR reaffirms his racist mindset. The fact that he will socialize with prominent Africa-Americans merely confirms his inherent racism. “Some of my best friends are black” will not purge his racism.
Tim Lynch (Philadelphia, PA)
The Frankenstein president , produced in the gop laboratory over the last 50 years, has indeed culminated in a Jim Crow executive,judicial and legislative cabal. Now the gop's problem is keeping Frankenstein from seeing torchlights everywhere. The monster is running out of control and the gop ,for their own craven purposes, is trying to contain it. Emergency proclamations, Senate rules changes, voting role purges, this reeks of slick white boys changing the rules in the middle of the game.
mikeyh (Poland, OH)
I wonder if people realize that many Puerto Ricans serve and have served in the US military. Many Puerto Ricans died in the Vietnam war. The Times would do well to inform people of these facts.
JLM (Central Florida)
Spot on sir. The nuance of racism is clearly understood by the hardcore of white supremacists among us. As a nation of laws, not men, it is unacceptable from anyone in power, even the President. Trump is a disgrace and not worthy of all the attention he craves so cravenly.
BTO (Somerset, MA)
Trump is only doing what a good white supremacist would do for an island full of 3rd class citizens in his eyes, he’s denying them what is rightfully theirs. This man is the worst president that has ever sat in the office, if he is willing to treat citizens of a United States Territory in this manner how long before he treats the rest of us that way. The good people of Puerto Rico didn’t control the weather that decimated the island and they surely don’t deserve the treatment that they are receiving from Trump.
Hari Prasad (Washington, D.C.)
Trump's hardly-veiled racism is no secret. But his spiteful, abusive, and lying comments about Puerto Rico show also: (1) rage at the mayor who reported the true, shameful failure of the U.S. Federal authorities to help Puerto Rico effectively after the terrible hurricane hit the territory; and (2) resentment that people laughed and sneered at the absurdity of Trump throwing rolls of toilet paper on his staged publicity visit.
IN (New York)
You have eloquently told the truth. A good part of Trump’s appeal to voters and his Republican Party’s support is based on racism and the pernicious ideology of white supremacy. Trump is blatantly and crudely open in spouting these lies in all its ugliness and the Republican Party has been using these ideas to win elections for years. Think State’s Rights, Nixon’s Southern Strategy, and their strong bond with White Southern Evangelical Christians and their Law and Order rhetoric! Trump’s main advantage politically to them was his championing of the Birther Movement with its racism and nonsensical insistence that President Obama was illegitimate and born in Kenya. Trump gained his legitimacy with the Republican base with his odious insistence in spreading this lie and primarily for that reason they voted for him. Yet ironically Trump is really a totally illegitimate President and his use of racism divisive, ugly, and disgraceful.
Janet (New York)
Trump wins my vote for most corrupt (weekends at Mar-a-Lago, Russian hotel deal), most mendacious and worst president ever. The only time he will get my vote.
Bronwyn (Montpelier, VT)
I was recently in PR and I can tell you that some of the poorer areas look like bombed-out Syria. Many people there are desperate, and yet this so-called President can do nothing than toss paper towels and insults at them. I am donating to help PR. Here's a list put forth by Charity Navigator; please do likewise.
BTO (Somerset, MA)
Trump is only doing what a good white supremacist would do for an island full of 3rd class citizens in his eyes, he’s denying them what is rightfully theirs. This man is the worst president that has ever sat in the office, if he is willing to treat citizens of a United States Territory in this manner how long before he treats the rest of us that way. The good people of Puerto Rico didn’t control the weather that decimated the island and they surely don’t deserve the treatment that they are receiving from Trump.
Bongo (NY Metro)
Trump is loathsome and an obvious bigot. However, Puerto Rico’s history of corruption, crime, and mismanagement is undeniable. It is a giant welfare colony. Aid is appropriate, but careful monitoring and control are needed.
Clare (NY)
@Bongo And you would trust anyone in the entire Trump Administration to do that?
mancuroc (rochester)
".....minorities as incapable of good governance....." Hmm. When I think of a nation that's incapable of good governance, the first one that comes to mind is the UK. And when I think in particular of a political party incapable of governing, it's the US Republican Party. Neither of these is exactly in the hands of a minority. 21:45 EDT, 4/03
William (Chicago)
Obama laughed at our penchant for guns and religion. Clinton called us deplorable and said we smell. Today, we are most likely to be referred to as racists. If you think characterizations like that and articles like this are going to gain you more Democratic voters, come 2020, you are going to be even more disappointed then when you read Barr’s memo.
sharonm (kansas)
If it looks like duck, walks like a duck, talks like a duck . . . , it is probably a duck.
Gangulee (Philadelphia)
I think he needs to see a therapist asap: he became his father a few days ago. "This is, after all, a president who struggles to locate his own father’s place of birth: the Bronx, New York City. On Tuesday, Trump declared in the presence of the Nato secretary general that this was just one more alternative fact in a universe of unknowable infinities. “My father is German,” he said in the Oval Office. “Right? Was German. And born in a very wonderful place in Germany, and so I have a great feeling for Germany.”
Ken (MT Vernon, NH)
If you are the governor of Puerto Rico and want the President to give you even more aid money to embezzle, waste and spread around to your cronies, you might not want to threaten him and taunt him. Call Trump's counter attack white supremacy if your brain is really that small and works like a broken record, but Puerto Rico has used their disaster recovery funds in the most corrupt and ineffective manner of all recent disaster areas.
Cathy (Hopewell Jct NY)
Is Blow telling us that Trump is racist? Or at the very least, blinded by racial prejudice? No kidding. Can Blow tell us how to make that matter? Because, like every other sin from the cesspool of moral depravity that envelops our Administration, it doesn't seem to matter. Poor people, sick, people, black people, Hispanic people, Muslim people, none of them matter because they are lost votes to Trump anyway. Live or die, they don't affect the Trump base. Tax cuts, wedding cakes, birth control, fetuses, and the belief that we will revive the steel industry and the days of yore affect the base votes. Suffering people in Puerto Rico - who cannot vote - do not. Blow is telling us what we know. Does anyone have an actual answer about how to make that change?
Norma (Albuquerque, NM)
@Cathy Vote for Democrats in all elections.
There (Here)
Where would poor Mr. blow be without the divisiveness of race in this country, where would he be working? Instead of using his platform to bring people together, to make things better, he chooses to exacerbate and in flam racial division. He actually seems to enjoy it.
Clare (NY)
@There For some people, apparently just acknowledging that racism exists is "inflaming." Just how does one "bring people together," then, by pretending it doesn't? Then how, pray tell, does anything ever improve?
Max (NYC)
Do you still not get it? If Puerto Rico approved of Trump, he would tweet that they were all geniuses. He does not care about anything but his own vanity. I’m halfway through Bob Woodward’s book, and so far, Trump calls everybody weak and incompetent, from the Secretary Of State and Attorney General on down. Cherry picking these various insults and crying racism is just more divisive martyrdom from Mr Blow.
Clare (NY)
@Max Did you actually read this column? Like the part where Trump declared that the people of Puerto Rico were taking money away from midwestern farmers? Do you think it's just a stunning coincidence that Puerto Ricans are hispanic and Midwestern farmers are white? My guess, Max, is that you are white and male and have never been on the receiving end of either overt or covert racism or sexism. Trust me, those of us who have know it when we see it.
Max (NYC)
@Clare Some things are true even if a white male says them. The Trump quote was that Democrats denied aid to farmers while approving more aid for PR, which so far has been ineffective due to the politicians. He added that the people there are great. As I said, cherry picking quotes out of context and ascribing them to racism is counter productive and divisive.
tbs (detroit)
Actually, for Trump and his voters, Puerto Rico is just another one of those Mexican countries.
maria m. (Washington state)
“...a ‘sick,’ ‘weak,’ ‘incompetent leader’ with a ‘horrible attitude’ who ‘looks and sounds so ridiculous,’ ‘has disastrous judgment,’ is ‘a total failure’ and is ‘perhaps the worst president in the history of the United States!’” — Trump describing himself.
Thomas Renner (New York)
It is well known that trump is a liar and a white supremist so the fact he takes 14 billion and blows it to 91 billion and ridicules the brown women mayor of San Juan is no surprise. Its also known and no surprise that there has been lots of corruption in PR, and the rest of the world. To move on I believe PR should become a state, pay its fair share, get the help it needs and the representation it deserves with no sigma attached.
Patrick (Ithaca, NY)
"Racist" issues aside, the aging of the farmers as a whole should be a concern. Not now, but maybe ten years from now, if the average age is creeping into the mid-60's and these farmers hit retirement age, who's going to replace them? Who's going to produce the food for anybody, no matter what their skin color is?
Rick Beck (DeKalb)
Puerto Ricans are American citizen people plain and simple. The very idea that anyone, let alone the president of the United States would view them as lesser citizens simply because of skin color or their separation from mainland U.S. is as alarming thoughtless and racist as it gets. As we all should no by now the current occupant of the Whitehouse has a very small mind and an even smaller heart. For the first time in 67 years I can honestly say that because of who is President I am ashamed to say I am an American.
Rebecca Pinot (Puerto Rico)
If Trump (and others) in U.S. feel we Puerto Ricans are corrupt, lazy and a burden, the problem is easy to solve. Free us, the solution is in hands of Congress and U.S. government. We are a colony, a possession of the U.S. goverment(what a shame) and by the way, United States citizens. It really doesn’t matter what political status we want, there is no action taken by the part of U.S. Love to keep us in a “limbo”. We do not want to be a colony, and do not desrve the way we are treated and denigrated by many in the mainland. Tweeting will not solve our problem , negotiating like intelligent , civilized people will. By the way, do come visit our beautiful island, experience first hand our hospitality.
JPM (San Juan)
When young Donald Trump was sent to New York Military Academy at age 13, his first room mate was a young boy from Puerto Rico. That arrangement lasted only three weeks as Donald was afraid he would be assaulted or harmed by this boy and requested he be assigned someone of his ethnic category as a room mate. That first room mate, now a very successful and highly regarded businessman in Miami and San Juan recalls that experience clearly, stating that "no bigger jerk has ever walked the face of the planet earth". In later years, in the 1990s, the Trump Organization went to Puerto Rico to show the locals how the Trump magic worked in the real estate business. Trump became involved with a wealthy local developer in a resort hotel development. Naturally, this involvement was at great initial expense to the local as the Trump magic comes at a high initial cost. (Trump wanted his fee up front.) The project was upgraded at tremendous expense to meet the Trump standards before being placed on the market. The sales effort was a total failure. The Trump Organization was humiliated in the local luxury resort market place and was forced to leave the island with their gold plated tails between their gold plated legs. (He will never forgive how stupid they were.) His hatred for Puerto Rico, like his hatred for Obama, is based on his personal inadequacies, experiences and failures as well as overpowering personal insecurities that he just cannot resist nor overcome.
Mark Thomason (Clawson, MI)
This is a mistaken either/or assumption. We recently saw the same pattern in Detroit. Corrupt government ruins a place. Then Republicans rush in to "fix it" with plans that benefit mostly themselves, and attempt to loot the place even further in yet more new ways. The government of Puerto Rico made an awful mess, long before the hurricane. Nothing Trump or Republicans would do would fix any of that, from before or after the hurricane. It isn't either/or, because it is both. They're all crooks, who all took advantage of Puerto Rico (just like they did Detroit). In all cases, race and ethnicity was a selling point used to market crooks to their chosen audience.
María (Florida)
Please keep writing about this and partner with Puerto Ricans for future writings.
Ricardo Chavira (Tucson)
Trump has long proudly and defiantly put his racism on display. He says what many racist Americans think but are reluctant to voice. He is acutely aware that bashing, denigrating and even demonizing black and brown people is a political winner for him. It feeds his base. That millions of Americans are energized by such racism is disquieting.
S North (Europe)
Puerto Ricans are "citizens" the way the Guamese and the Samoans and DC inhabitants are citizens: second-class, without proper representation in Congress and the electoral college. Time they all got statehood. If Hawaii can be a state with full rights, the others should too.
P. Ames (NY)
@S North They have had plenty of chances to become a state, but voted it down each time. Hawaii became a state because they chose to be.
Salix (Sunset Park, Brooklyn)
Clearly & simply said. Yes, paternalistic white supremacy is the problem.
The Observer (In fair Verona, where we lay our scene)
@Salix Therefore, we must replace it with progressive anger and the ocasional outbursts of violence against people siding with Pres. Trump - or just voicing indepedent opinions?
Drspock (New York)
Puerto Rico is an American colony. The UN has annually declared this reality and noted that this status is unlawful under international law. Washington denies this claiming commonwealth as some unknown exception under international law. But our Supreme Court has on two recent occasions stated unequivocally that Congress has complete plenary control over the island. The Puerto Rican legislature can pass whatever laws they want, but ultimately Congress has the final say. This is a clear definition of colonial status. So however complicit or incompetent the political elites of Puerto Rico may or may not have been, the oversight and decision making buck stops in Washington. And Puerto Ricans have as much right to catastrophic relief as any other citizens. Congress needs to pass a sensible and fair relief bill and dare Trump to veto it. Failing that, they would have confirmed all suspicions that they are just as racist as he is.
Maxine and Max (Brooklyn)
Alabama can't do anything right, either, and probably for the same logical reasons Trump finds to criticize Puerto Rico. Mr. Trump's lawyer, cabinet, and family can't seem to do anything right, non plus. There is nothing new in failure. The shame is when the pot blames the kettle for being black as black as it is.
Bernardo Izaguirre MD (San Juan , Puerto Rico)
To be attacked by Trump is a badge of honor . After all he has attacked the most successful democracies on Earth and lavished praise on North Korea . As an American Citizen what concerns me the most is the future of the Country and I mean the whole Country . Should we allow a clearly incapacitated man to continue at the helm . To me the most concerning thing in the most recent news cycle were not his insulting remarks about Puerto Rico but his claim that his Father was born in Germany . What that bizarre claim says about his mental state ?
Tom Yesterday (Connecticut)
"He tweeted that Puerto Rico’s government “can’t do anything right” and that the island’s politicians are “incompetent or corrupt” and only “complain and ask for more money,” " The Guinness record for psychological projection. Trump is describing himself.
RK (Long Island, NY)
Many Puerto Ricans, yes, US Citizens, have left after the storm and settled in Florida. If they can help flip Florida to the Democrats in 2020, especially in the presidential election, they'd be helping to get rid of a corrupt president and that'd be indeed be poetic justice.
Clark Landrum (Near the swamp.)
Here in the American South we have dealt with the stigma of racism since the Civil War. Compared to Trump, we are a bastion of racial tolerance and I believe that Trump is from New York or some other northern stronghold.
peter (ny)
@Clark Landrum Sadly, he does hail from NY, but we aren't all like him (thankfully!) Please don't hold it against us
Jack Sonville (Florida)
Charles, current history with Trump and Puerto Rico is more about the notoriously insecure, thin-skinned Trump being angry at Puerto Rican politicians for not sucking up to him and then publicly calling him out for his lack of support after the storm. His paper towel-tossing routine apparently did not impress them, understandably. However, the disaster that is Puerto Rico’s debt situation and its woeful infrastructure are decades-old problems that Trump did not create.
Chris (Farmington NY)
We don’t exploit other groups. We don’t gain anything from their presence. They need us, and not the other way around. --Richard Spencer in his Hail Trump Speech
LooseFish (Rincon, Puerto Rico)
I detest Trump and Trumpism, but, sometimes he is at least partially right. In this case, regarding corruption and incompetence in the government of Puerto Rico, he is dead on. I live here. I see it everyday. Moreover, everyone here openly acknowledges that our elected officials are corrupt, at every level, from mayors on up. And, when they are not corrupt, they are incompetent. For example, the government owned power company (PREPA) scrimped on paying to cut trees away from the power lines, and because of that we had a total failure of the grid when hurricane Maria came through. Had they spent the 20 million or so dollars it would have cost to cut the trees back before the hurricane, we would have saved billions in reconstruction costs, and probably many lives as well. Moreover, everyone knew BEFORE the hurricane that we were in jeopardy from the trees, and there were numerous published warnings about it in the newspapers, but the government didn't do anything about it. This is just one example of dozens more I could cite.
Vincent (Ct)
The problems in Puerto Rico have been around for some time. We threw out the Spaniards from this island and Cuba. Then we went to the Philippines. Then we walked away. This country has interrupted the governments of countless central and South American governments. The chickens have come home to roost.
Christy (WA)
Puerto Rico is an American territory; its people are U.S. citizens and Trump is one of its politicians. So when he calls them "incompetent and corrupt" he is actually talking about himself.
Larry Lundgren (Sweden)
Charles, here in your single sentence, is the number one reason for you to stop and address this question: Is it not time to end classification of Americans by "race"? CB: "Particularly present since Reconstruction, this method involves proclaiming that MINORITIES (my emphasis) lack the character and capacity to create effective government, and therefore minority-led jurisdictions are a hopeless drain on resources." Why did you write "minorities" instead of the word you ordinarily would use, "race"? Donald Trump looks at you and sees a man belonging to a "race", a subgroup of Americans first separated in the 1790 census and seen as worth 3/5 the value of a white (too complicated to explain in a comment). American White Nationalists embrace the Census system, since they know that it was created so that people seen by USCB as "white" could by at the top of the American racial order. So, Charles, why not take that sentence and rewrite it, inserting "race" where "minorities" appear. Then tell us, if you favor preserving that system. I know American white nationalists do as I learned when the USCB tested creating a new "race" MENA to take all with Middle Eastern-North African roots, now in the white box, and put them in a new "not white" box. Census time soon! Your thoughts Charles? Citizen US SE
walterhett (Charleston, SC)
One point missed about Trump's lies is that he believes the lies he tells--that helps makes them convincing! Many of his lies are spur of the moment creations; he can lie without reflection or thought. His lies are the current curse of American politics--in fact the news has become the verbatim repeat of Trump lies. A lie is Trump's favorite conveyance. His lying is a false fetish and a false freedom that he uses to limit amendment nine liberties and to attack Americans consensus on a variety of issues. The viciousness of his lies have economic, social, and personal consequences. Farmers who lost global market share because of Trump's tariffs and now see the lost of their entire crop production because of Midwest flooding are now refused federal assistance by Trump! The Dirty Little Secret of Trump's lies is that many contain a death wish. With Trump, fatalities are tied to policies. The fatalities are scattered statistics, spread out in place and time, obscuring their occurrence and hiding their direct connection to his words. But whether it is millions of people who face the denial of healthcare or the proclamation of a white supremacist terrorist who cites Trump as renewing white supremacy "common purpose," or the funding of a regional war against Yemen that starved thousands of children, or the caging of of children separated from families, Trump's wish is death not hope. It is the common ground of his thoughts on which he stands alone.
Dominic (Astoria, NY)
Trump is both a racist and white supremacist. This column, along with Trump's own statements and actions, illustrates a clear and persistent pattern of behavior and mentality when it comes to people of color. I have no doubt that the racism of his father, with his treatment of minority tenants, influenced him from the beginning. Trump's racist claims against Latinos and African Americans not only animated his original campaign, but keeps a large percentage of his base riled up and angry, happy to shout at his rallies, and blame "other people" for their difficulties. Barack Obama was the greatest president of my lifetime so far. I also take great inspiration and pride from the many people of color and women who have recently become such a powerful force for change and progress in our nation. We are finally seeing the long-marginalized perspectives, ideas, and voices of intelligent and talented Americans shape our nation and its destiny. It's long overdue. Trump, the Republican party, and his voters can scream and wail as much as they want, but their tantrums and attempts to sabotage cannot and will not work in the long run. Change is here whether they like it or not.
Meg (Troy, Ohio)
Thank you, Mr. Blow, for pointing out the blatant racism displayed by Mr. Trump--in his own words. I am afraid that even liberal, fair-minded white Americans are normalizing his bigotry against black, brown, and yellow people both in America and around the world. If we're not normalizing it, we are definitely feeling frustrated and even defeated as this corrupt, incompetent, racist administration continues to roll on reveling in its ability to stay in power, hold its base, keep credible congressional oversight at bay, and lull a complicit and weak media into doing its bidding in this normalization process. Chaos is the order of the day--and Donald Trump does it well.
Martha (NY, NY)
I once asked friends whether they could imagine Donald Trump walking on a NYC sidewalk. Walking, mind you. Not one said they could. No one. Now he presumably in his youth did meet in some way many people, as he attended Fordham. But I think his blindness comes from no interaction with all sorts of us folk since he began to think of billions of dollars. The contractors whom he didn't pay, for example, didn't seem real to him. African-Americans must be ignorant. And Puerto Ricans? They don't know what's best for them. Best for them not to be too highfalutin'. What a piece of work he is.
poslug (Cambridge)
Deflection fest. Whatever Trump says about others describes him. So, Trump "can't do anything right" and is "incompetent or corrupt" etc., not Puerto Rico. Then on to racism and bigotry.
John (NY)
Mr. Blow You are entitled to get help from the Federal Government when you pay income taxes to the Federal Government. That's the deal: Taxes in return for services Puerto Ricans do NOT pay federal income taxes. Yes they do not, They are free loaders. It is unfair to us, the rest, that pay
Josef K. (NYC)
To be Puertorican, Mexican, Latino or Hispanic is not a denomination of race , it is a denomination of nationality or CULTURAL ethnicity. In Puerto Rico you have people from Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe as well as a few people with a minor trace of the Taino indigenous heritage. And of course, you have people that are direct descendants of Europeans (mostly from Spain), or African descent and a big number of people that genetically combine both races to different levels of degrees (as well as other races). In other words, just like in the USA. I never understand why some Amercans call Americans white people and Puertoricans (or Hispanics) brown people. For example, I am "white", as I am a direct descendant of Europeans, but when people realize that I have a hispanic last name and specially when I tell them that I was born in PR, I suddenly become "brown". These assumptions of race are so 19 century, they are retrograde, ignorant and only perpetuate racism.
David Walker (Limoux, France)
“...not an anomaly but a motif.” Translation for Trump’s base: It’s not a bug, but a feature; sort of like how Big Tech corrupts everything they touch, including our elections that resulted in Trump’s election with a minority of the vote—not “the minority vote,” just to be clear on that point.
JRM (Melbourne)
Thank you for an undeniable outline of American History and laying it bare for anyone who will admit it is the truth. Shame is all I can feel. Shame for the Americans who have perpetuated this awful truth.
The catalogue of insults hurled at innocent people by this unfit president makes me sick. I am so sorry for all of us having to endure his offensive and reckless words. He seems devoid of a single decent trait. I think he will have a very hard time in the coming months thanks to the intrepid investigarors who will restore the rule of law. “A hard rain is gonna fall.”
Bonnie Rudner (Newton, Ma)
We all know that this, as well as his abortion politics, got Trump elected Deplorable? Absolutely
CitizenofPA (Harrisburg)
As a NYT opinionist, I would be very careful to “whitewash” all farmers into this bucket of White Privdledged. No one works harder than a farmer or is forced to be more clever and sits in a front row seat to natural disaster. The average New Yorker has no idea how their food is produced nor how a farm operates. On a separate issue, Farmers like Trump for the simple reason he rises at 3:30am and he works hard. It is that simple. Democrats need to find a politician that works hard. This could take a while seeing the current lineup and white people are getting tired of minority excuses. Here is a novel thought: Produce something of value and have the world admire and consume it. The Chinese, Koreans and Indians are minorities in America and why are they so silent? Maybe they are busy working, studying and getting ahead? Hard work is the engine of the American dream not the percentage of government handouts. Any real business person knows this so if Puerto Rico gets $41 Billion call it a good day and innovate your way out of that problem.
Nan Socolow (West Palm Beach, FL)
Puerto Ricans are Americans. Donald Trump didn't know that Puerto Rico was a American territory, an island ("surrounded by water!"). Trump has shown us his appalling ignorance time and again. We witnessed Trump in Puerto Rico, exulting in his power, throwing paper towel rolls to people who were suffering (and dying) from the 2017 hurricanes. Trump doesn't know that America's territorial people are Americans. Could he have been more callous to the people of that island? No. Could he be more callous to our allies, and friendly to our enemies today? No. Trump has acted as if PR is just a small boil on his neck. The Puerto Ricans are of mixed-blood, "brown people". And we know what our white supremacist president thinks about brown people, He has taught us chapter and verse. The world is changing daily in favour of "brown people', and we hope that our big maga-capped golfer will be caught in his own divisive nationalistic net as it closes around him soon. We miss Barack Obama, our beloved "brown" president for 8 years until the Electoral College -- elected Donald Trump in 2016.
Disillusioned (NJ)
Yet Trump freely supports aid to Venezuela? Just further proof that all of his actions are governed by self-interest. Residents of Puerto Rico can't vote and Trump supporters care little for Latinos in general. He can use the Venezuelan mess to support his principle campaign mantra- stop the socialist Democratic Party. As is always the case with Trump, facts do not matter, actual policies are irrelevant and there is no concern for people at any level.
Tired (NYC)
Even a broken clock is right twice a day. The knee jerk reaction of Trump bashers is to bash Trump because he gets so many things wrong. But anyone who believes that local corruption and incompetence is not a root cause of PR's problems has not lived here. PR has been in a deep, continuing recession for 10 years while the rest of the world has recovered. This isn't to say that there aren't pockets of the mainland with the same issues, but it is unlikely that anything in PR truly will get better (regardless of federal aid, removal of Jones Act or whatever) until this root problem is solved. Everything else may help, but only at the margin.
Alan J. Shaw (Bayside, New York)
And what of the corruption and incompetence of the Trump administration? Is that the "root cause" of any problems in the US?
Gina (Melrose, MA)
@Tired "Corruption and incompetence" are the root causes of the serious problems in Trump's administration. Trump throws stones at everyone else whilst his own house is shattered glass.
bigeasycowboy (Las Vegas, NV)
@Tired One could argue that New Orleans and Louisiana were (and possibly are) lead by corrupt and incompetent people but that didn't stop the recovery efforts after Katrina. Could it not be that as Mr. Blow suggests, the difference between how the recoveries have been handled is because NOLA is majority white? I do believe it is.
Preserving America (in Ohio)
Thank you, Charles, for your wise commentary. I could not possibly have conjured up a more despicable man than DJT. Calling him a white supremacist seems almost too mild. He hates everyone "less than" himself (and apparently, we all are). Never,in my wildest dreams, did I think we could be "led" by such a pathetic excuse for a human. And I won't even touch the fact that the evangelicals in my family love the guy! My most urgent wish is that we can survive long enough to vote him out of office.
PL (Sweden)
Lee’s remark seems to imply that he believed in the cultural backwardness, but not necessarily the biological inferiority of black people. If so, this would be typical of the time in which he wrote. True “racialism” (the word first appears in the 1870s; “racism” in the 1930s) as a supposedly science-based philosophy, only becomes common after Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” (1859)— and more specifically, his “The Descent of Man” (1871). Before that thoughtful commentators on race seem to have thought of it more in cultural than biological terms. The great defender of slavery, John C. Calhoun, spoke, as Lee did, of the black man eventually rising to civilization (without, presumably, ceasing to be black). He knew that his own Scottish ancestors had been savages back in Babylonian, and even in Roman times.
Lachlan Williams (Melbourne, Australia)
Millard Fillmore the worst President? Delaying Southern Succession via the 1850 Compromise won the North the civil war 10 years later. Just saying. Always a cheap shot to judge the politics of the past by the standards of today. Which statue will you propose be pulled down next? Which building should be renamed? Which modern day trigger points from history should be erased to satisfy the snowflake generation of woke entitlement?
ms (Midwest)
Seems to me that the most corrupt city in the U.S. may currently be Washington DC....
fearing for (fascist america)
Mr. Blow, thanks for your usual astute observations. It has been clear to everyone now, except for the people who do not think and read, who do not analyze, or who blatantly ignore facts, that Trump is a terrible president. He is even worse than Nixon. I am confident that the electorate will vote in a manner that recognizes his barely disguised white racism, his disdain for the poor and underprivileged, his contempt for facts and for history, and his corrupt character, all of which lowers the quality of life in America, and has made us the laughing stock of the world. It has been a truly depressing and miserable time to be alive in America, a country whose administration is rejecting the very noble concepts upon which its constitution was created.
Michael Gilbert (Charleston, SC)
Correct on every point again, Mr. Blow. The most frightening aspect though is that 40 percent of the American electorate is completely fine with DJT's statements and viewpoints, and enthusiastically support him and his policies. Our only recourse is to vote him, and any of his elected sycophantic supporters, out of office, as the likelihood that any of them will change is zero.
ROBERT (Montclair, NJ)
@Michael Gilbert "the likelihood that any of them will change is zero." Better to replace "zero" with "negelently small". It is probable that one or two is at this moment planning his/her book to be released in the aftermath.
Jim Tagley (Naples, FL)
Even Abraham Lincoln believed that blacks and whites could not live together and he worried about how all these freed blacks would fare in a modern society. One of his ideas was to send all the newly freed blacks to Liberia, Central America, or Haiti.
frostbitten (hartford, ct)
Puerto Rican’s should all establish residency in Florida and help turn the state BLUE in the next election.
Yiddishamama (NY)
You know the movie "West Side Story"? Trump grew up in that kind of NYC, with those kinds of attitudes toward people from Puerto Rico. But Trump is no Tony. Just swap Trump in for one of Tony's white gang brothers. It will explain much about Trump.
Carole (San Diego)
Our President should be under the care of medical professionals and removed from a position of authority. Perhaps half of the citizens here are as ignorant and cruel as Trump appears to be...but, we can’t let that mind set rule our country. As an elderly citizen, I can’t plan to be around much longer, but I have grand children and great grandchildren who are facing a future much like the past my generation got rid of. I grew up where black old ladies stepped into the gutter so a twelve tear old white girl could pass and the whole city was divided by skin color! It was not a good way to live.
sharon (worcester county, ma)
There is seemingly no bottom to this despicable "man". He is destroying our country more every day yet his mesmerized supporters refuse to acknowledge the damage he is causing and how truly repulsive he is. I don't understand how people who are struggling financially can be convinced to believe that they're doing far better than they were under former President Obama, especially when economic data puts lie to their beliefs. I don't understand how they believe that the wind generated by wind turbines causes cancer yet they're fine with destroying the EPA and its protections, that somehow wind is dangerous but toxic carcinogens dumped into their drinking water and released into the air they breathe is fine. I don't understand how so called Christians can turn their backs on their fellow citizens in Puerto Rico who are still struggling with the almost total devastation caused by hurricane Maria. I don't understand how these "Christians" cheer taking away access to needed healthcare from millions of people. I don't understand the non Christian attitude that every deplorable thing this sub human does is perfectly aligned with their "Christian" beliefs; so long as he hurts the correct people. Though far from a biblical scholar I don't remember Jesus advocating for vengeance and inhumane treatment to those one doesn't "like". I do recall him commanding to "love your enemies as I have loved you", that "what you do to the least among us you do unto me". I just don't understand.
Samantha (Providence, RI)
I wish we all could ignore the psychotic rants of our deranged leader. It's been a monumental failure of democracy that he got elected, and it's a mistake to attach any importance to anything he says. His unbridled effusions are the product of an addled brain completely lack in discipline and judgment. What others seem to regard as pluck is really lack of self-restraint. He's a loose cannon and he's pointing at the whole world. It's a shame he gets any attention at all. He should be put in a locked ward in a hospital, as he's an acute danger to himself and others.
My Bodhisattva (South Thomaston, ME.)
Charles Blow is always right on. His intelligent, insightful, informative perspective informs Americans of all colors where reality lies in our public discourse. And comments, distortions, implied hated against human beings whose skin color is not white needs to be flushed out, highlighted and challenged. Thank you Charles Blow.
K D (Pa)
Before Hawaii became a state my mother who was born there in 1910 was constantly asked if she was a citizen and had to carry her passport for any “official activity” such as voting.
Stan P (Brookline, MA)
While there surely is a racial component with 45, he is a (nearly) equal opportunity offender. If you make him look bad he strikes back 10-fold. That said, at best he is overly paternalistic and patronizing with minorities that might be lucky enough to be on his good side (admittedly a rare occurrence)
Diego (NYC)
Trump only speaks/tweets/waves to his base. He is not communicating to or for the rest of us. If he could set his tweets to only go out to those who voted for him, he'd do it.
R.S. (New York City)
While I appreciate the column's attempts to give some of the history and context that gave rise to white America's current views of Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican people, the whole column seems forced. There is no evidence that Trump's racism is nearly as nuanced as that history and context would suggest. The Administration's failures in Puerto Rico, and Trump's personal response, are shocking, even among an all-star list of shocking conduct. This kind of treatment of our own citizens, in their time of need, should be nauseating for all--even for supporters of Trump. If America were not numb to all this, and wrapped up in partisan tribal warfare, Trump's approval ratings would be in single digits for this alone.
baldinoc (massachusetts)
When I was teaching in a college here in MA my Puerto Rican students told me they were frequently asked by other students if they had a "green card." A fellow professor told me the problem with Puerto Ricans was that "they had too easy access to get here." "They're citizens," I said. He was taken aback. "Well, that's relatively recent." I said, "1919." He got angry and stormed away. Do your own little survey. Ask the next 20 people you meet if Puerto Ricans are citizens. Half of them will say no.
Porter (Sarasota, Florida)
My next trip outside the continental US will be back to San Juan, which my wife and I have visited many times. What a remarkable city with an incredible Spanish historical district, amazing classic architecture, gorgeous beaches, friendly people and great Puerto Rican and Cuban food as well. Next time I'm going to rent a car and go down to Ponce and hopefully also make it out to the jewel known as Vieques, and perhaps to one of the eco-lodges that I understand are amazing. And, of course, drink only Puerto Rican coffee, once world-famous as the bean that helped create Viennese coffee a century ago and make it so very popular worldwide. Can't wait!
Tina (Illinois)
He is campaigning and his base will eat it up. I do wonder about my sister’s father in law, my friends in Georgia, and my high school classmates, Tico and Rafael, who support him rabidly. They are Puerto Rican, as am I. What will they make of this? Going to Facebook to find out now.
barbara (nyc)
Over and over the notion that white supremacy is special is a myth. Who is it that uses every reason in the book to elevate their genealogy as an excuse to own other people. Let us remember that all over the world, conquerors created children of all kinds...because the world is variation on years of migrations. Puerto Rico is interesting because it is so diverse. As a child I recall a Life magazine in my grandfathers attic, that included a photo essay of people that had African American ancestry. Its diversity was stunning and yet these same people are included in the 2% rule. How does this make sense?
Karen (NYC)
The tragedy is that the relief money seems to be going to overpriced inexperienced "contractors" who have made the right political contributions and cannot do the job. It reminds me of the critical body armor which was desperately needed by our troops in Afghanistan which were being made in someone's garage, and how many people up here in the northeast have not yet had their property fixed dealing with the contractors. Puerto Rico should be installing localized solar power, as all the Caribbean islands should have. The centralized power system is clearly very vulnerable. Why do we all go down to the islands in the winter if not for the sun?
joe (atl)
FEMA and federal assistance after disasters was designed to be the last resort in aid. Cities were supposed to be the first response and states were supposed to provide assistance when local resources were exhausted. Hurricane Katrina upended all of this. In fact the more incompetent New Orleans and Louisiana were, the more federal money they got. Mississippi responded more effectively to Katrina and as a result got less money. Puerto Rico learned this lesson well. The less you do, the more the federal government will help you.
Daniel Salazar (Naples FL)
Unfortunately, most Americans could care less about Puerto Rico aside from an occasional vacation. It has no strategic value and no votes. It used to have Pharma manufacturing until the tax incentives were allowed to expire. Oh yes, it was a great place for naval and Air Force target practice. It’s economy at present levels of population is not sustainable without continued support even if it’s debt is relieved. Young talented people leave for the USA. Yes, it has political corruption and crime. Is it more than Trump’s administration? I know the race issues are important but they should not block honest dialogue about the future of Puerto Rico. The options are statehood or independence. The colonial status is the blockade to true progress. Either true representation in the US government or a Puerto Rican nation. Otherwise better move to the mainland as the next Hurricane will surely come.
Gus Smith (NY)
Hi did you read another column? Writing “this should not block honest dialogue about PR” is like a kid asking for a magic carpet. The racist words came from the President so honest dialogue is now officially blocked. He runs the administration. I feel like America is a multi-family building which Trump and the GOP have set it a fire. Well meaning Americans inside smell the smoke but are waiting to get burned to understand or pay attention.
Revoltingallday (Durham NC)
Now replace Puerto Rico with Mississippi Or Louisiana, and you have the point of the article. Where was this interest in “good governance” when Mississippi and Louisiana needed to be competent in order to qualify for disaster relief? Puerto Ricans have been fighting and dying in US wars since 1900. I think they qualify for disaster relief.
Jason Galbraith (Little Elm, Texas)
@Daniel Salazar the next Republican President will grant Puerto Rico independence to prevent its people from moving where they can vote Democratic in a Presidential election.
Luis G Santiago (New York, NY)
The author's "Point of fact" is actually incorrect. Legally speaking, Puerto Rico "belongs" to the United States but it is not "part" of the United States. The way I see it, Puerto Rico is unambiguously a nation, intervened and colonized by another nation. The best thing the US government can do to fix this relic of colonialism is to promote a process jointly with the people of Puerto Rico to devolve sovereignty to our nation and help us develop our own nation-state and our economy in a spirit of friendship and solidarity. I believe it is the best path for both of our countries.
german (nyc)
Puerto Rico is 99% Puerto Rican, not Hispanic. Hispanics, if they exists, are people from Spain. And most of us, are not minorities, we are "colonials". Minorities are those smaller social. linguistic or racial groups who consider themselves part of a nation, country. Lots of us do not. With regards to how Trump views those countries or communities who are not European or its descendants, sadly to say, is an issue larger than Trump, is part of the "exceptionalism" mentality taught in your schools.
Cristino Xirau (West Palm Beach, Fl.)
@german Hispanic (hispano) is a cultural distinction NOT a racial one. Puerto Ricans speak Spanish and are, therefore, classified as being "hispanic". I agree with German that Puerto Ricans are "colonials". US "citizenship" is meaningless when one cannot vote for political representation in Washington DC. Puerto Rico was, quite frankly, stolen from Spain in 1898 as a trophy won in the Spanish-American war, a conflict "invented" by the US of A. It was used as a coaling station for US ships passing between the continental US and the Panama Canal (territory stolen by the US from Columbia).
Puerto Rico is a territory that has CONSISTENTLY voted Democrat for generations. Since 1949 Puerto Rico has had only three governors out of 12 NOT from the Democratic Party. In the last 40 years there's been only one Republican governor. It's the height of laziness to accuse Trump for Puerto Rico's problems. Maybe it's about time the territory reconsidered it's political allegiance and chose a new party to run the show?! What they've been voting for hasn't been working!
K D (Pa)
@JOHNNY CANUCK Please check out some of the restrictions and fees or “taxes” that Congress has placed on Puerto Rico. Remember being an island makes them dependent on many imported items.
Cheryl (California)
Thank you for putting together these points regarding Trump's treatment of Puerto Rico and views on people of color.
Rima Regas (Southern California)
This is more akin to Japanese mythology and the Kappa than it is about a white dude making decisions for Puerto Ricans. This is pure Jim Crow behavior with Trump wanting Puerto Rico to drop dead so he and his hotelier and casino buddies can swoop in and take over the island. The complete lack of concern Trump showed for weeks right after the storm and when he finally went to Puerto Rico to throw paper towels at people told us all we needed to know about Trump's racism and greed. If Trump is Puerto Rico's Daddy, then he is a Kappa. Wikipedia describes them as: "Kappa are usually seen as mischievous troublemakers or trickster figures. Their pranks range from the relatively innocent, such as looking up women's kimonos, to the malevolent, such as drowning people and animals, kidnapping children, raping women and at times eating human flesh.Though sometimes menacing, it may also behave amicably towards humans." If the shoe fits... This Trump era is the rebirth of Jim Crow. Trump's lies, his speeches filled with oblique and direct remarks about people who have nothing to do with this nation's troubles are all designed to foment racial resentment and justify the unjustifiable. When this administration is over, it should be investigated for crimes against humanity. --- Things Trump Did While You Weren’t Looking [2019]
Midway (Midwest)
He tweeted that Puerto Rico’s government “can’t do anything right” and that the island’s politicians are “incompetent or corrupt” and only “complain and ask for more money,” which they spend “foolishly or corruptly, & only take from USA.” He specifically called the mayor of San Juan “crazed and incompetent.” Point of fact: Puerto Rico is part of the United States. It is a territory. Its citizens are U.S. citizens. The structure of Trump’s comments leaves open the possibility that he doesn’t know that, or conversely, knows it but doesn’t fully accept it or care about it. ------------------------ Now that is quite a leap of logic to take President Trump's honest criticism, and assume that he does not know Puerto Rico is a US territory whose residents are non-voting citizens. Why are you so afraid of criticism? Why does all criticism somehow relate back to white supremacy, instead of simply acknowledging: there's problems there, in management and corruption, and indeed, the San Juan mayor might be... in over her head, and not deserving of unlimited funding without clear and transparent oversight? Who does this help to support the establishment that is not creating change that faces up to the problems people of mixed color face? Or is it that you simply take offensive at the blunt way he always words the criticism? Black or white.
Morals Matter (Skillman NJ)
Trump perpetuates fake lies about Barack Obama's birthplace, then repeatedly lies about where his own father was born. Trump calls on Obama to release his grades from college and law school, having dispatched his lawyer to threaten his boarding school and college not to release his own. Trump denigrates immigrants, yet has been using undocumented immigrants for years at his properties. Is there such a thing as pathological hypocrisy?
David T (Bridgeport CT)
@Morals Matter He is also stridently anti-immigrant, despite two of his wives being immigrants. And he continually rails about "chain migration", when his in-laws just chain-migrated to the US during his presidency. Don't forget that he relentlessly criticized Obama for playing too much golf and taking too many vacations, when he has already eclipsed Obama's eight-year total in two years. I don't think it's hypocrisy as much as it is projection. Since his narcissistic personality disorder prevents him from recognizing his many flaws, Trump subconsciously projects them onto others.
Dan Locker (Brooklyn)
The PR has been a s mess for many years due to rampant corruption. After Irma, America sent containers loaded with supplies to help e Puerto Rican’s. The supplies backed up on the docks because the truckers unions controlled by the mayor of San Juan demanded more money to work..thinking that Uncle Sam would pony up. This is just one example of how incredibly corrupt things are in the PR.
ART (Athens, GA)
@Dan Locker And there's no corruption in Washington, DC? Part of the reason that supplies were not distributed is that mountain roads crumbled during the hurricane and towns in need of desperate help were unreachable.
Midway (Midwest)
@ART That is not President Trump's fault. Until the local forces are assembled and organized enough to distribute, it makes no sense to keep on pumping money into the recovery efforts that never reaches the people but is stalled in corrupt distribution efforts. And Americans should not be on the hook to rebuild the electric infrastructure that was iffy before the storm. That's not making the island whole, that is letting them benefit in illogical ways (running electric throughout the hills? That was never practical before the storms...). Can you get out of New York and actually talk to Puerto Ricans instead of telling them Trump is their Daddy, which I think in the Spanish machismo culture is not going to go over so well with the men there...
Townsend (Canada)
“...not only an illegitimate president, but also as an inept, lazy, embarrassing one. He has called him a “sick,” “weak,” “incompetent leader” with a “horrible attitude” who “looks and sounds so ridiculous,” “has disastrous judgment,” is “a total failure” and was “perhaps the worst president in the history of the United States!”” Trump’s view of Obama perfectly captures the view held by most of Trump himself. Current occupant clearly unfit for his office.
Kathy Lollock (Santa Rosa, CA)
One of the most poignant and heart-wrenching Times' essays that I have recently read was written just today by Sindy Flores, a Honduran refugee. Her eloquently told story revealed to me in no uncertain terms that is not only the country of her birth that is a government of cruelty and corruption; but also the nation whose Lady Liberty greets those "tired," "poor," and "huddled masses," has a "president" who is becoming a close second to Banana Republic dictators devoid of compassion and moral compasses. Trump is an ignorant showman, consumed by narcissism and power, to the point that he is reflecting and heeding to the most vociferous and bigoted of our society. Racism will always be a fact of a flawed human nature, a characteristic that refuses to die. It will inevitably rear its ugly head and spread like a cancer if left unchecked. Trump has no desire to restrain discrimination against our American neighbors in Puerto Rico, our African-American communities, those victims south of our borders. He will continue to allow them to be sacrificed on his demagogic altar. Charles compares Mr. Trump with past presidents of infamy. I contend, however, that relative to the progress this nation has made in education, economics, and the social sciences, this being in the White House of today is by far the worst.
Alice's Restaurant (PB San Diego)
Puerto Rico's politicians are more corrupt than either Baltimore's or Chicago's. Billions of American dollars stolen by its utilities. Why should anyone care?
Midway (Midwest)
@Alice's Restaurant "Billions of American dollars stolen by its utilities. Why should anyone care?" ---------- Because that pool of money is coming from somewhere... good for our president to make sure it is spent wisely.
William O, Beeman (San José, CA)
How do Puerto Ricans put up with this crude, gross disrespect from our President and his minions? I feel like I want to apologize to the entire island! But his MAGA-head base really loves it--sticking it to "those people."
Cristino Xirau (West Palm Beach, Fl.)
@William O, Beeman Please don't refer to the Trump person as "our President" The Electoral College placeed him in that position - not the popular vote of the American people. He is the Electoral College's president NOT ours!
Steve (North Haledon, NJ)
So why does Puerto Rico always vote against independence ? They should make their mind up
Cristino Xirau (West Palm Beach, Fl.)
@Steve Personally, I think Puerto Rico should join with Santo Domingo and Cuba and form an hispanic federation the same way as the former British colonies in the Caribe have done. Puerto Rico is too small to adequately be an independent nation and its colonial status as a US territory is unsatisfactory.
45 is a master projector...
Joshua Schwartz (Ramat-Gan, Israel)
Mr. Blow misses the point regarding Donald Trump and minorities. Anybody who is not Donald Trump and want to or is in charge is a minority and that is bad. Mr. Trump is majority, all the rest are minority. Does that make no sense? Alice in Wonderland logic is reality here. Moreover Mr. Trump works just fine with Mr. el-Sisi or Mr. Duterte. They are not white. Things are more complex, Mr. Blow, then you describe.
Striving (CO)
Apparently his love of dictators trumps his hatred of non-whites...
Yeah (Chicago)
Bigotry is the closest thing Trump has to a political belief. Everything else is personal aggrandizing and greed and cruelty.
Yoandel (Boston)
Given Donald Trump’s corruption and tax shenanigans are super-sized and an abhorrence of the highest order, and that it is his government, not Puerto Rico’s, the one government that cannot accomplish anything, from not using a private email server (lock them up!) to a clearance well-granted, methinks Donald the toilet-paper thrower complains too much! Puerto Rico should stand proud and remember the mistreatment and racism and despicable lack of compassion as members of the Hurricane Diaspora vote in a few months in Florida and the mainland.
clarissa (Washington, DC,)
Thank you Mr. Blow, Clearly written, clearly right. Trump is as destructive as a hurricane.
WestHartfordguy (CT)
What a tremendous indictment of the thinking of Donald J. Trump! It’s one thing to hear critics correctly call Trump a racist. It’s far more helpful to hear Charles Blow show us so clearly the ways in which Trump manifests his prejudice day after day. Are there really people who think this man is a decent human being?
Martha White (Jenningsville)
Of all his visits to the past disasters, it was only in Puerto Rico that he threw paper towels into the small crowd. No where else has this been done. And what makes this worse than the paper towel show( which was for his white supremacy supporters), is the thousands who died, not the 16 or 64 that he proclaims is the correct amount. We just came back from Puerto Rico. It is still in recovery. Power has yet to reach those living in the mountains. Puerto Rico is part of the United States. They are United States Citizens. They are proud Americans! So please let’s not fall into the Trump world of racism and hate. We are so much better than this as a country.
Sarah (Arlington, VA)
@Martha White The problem, Martha, is that the majority of his base belongs to the Trump world of racism and hate. An extremely large majority of people living in one of the poorest states of the Union, West Virginia, which is about 97% lily white, hated seeing a man with a darker skin in the White House, and blame all that ails their state one "them brownies" trying to take their low-paid jobs away while those supposed "invaders" are thousands of miles away from them. When I moved to these shores from "socialist" Europe about three decades ago, racism existed, albeit in a more covert form expressed in code. Under Trump racism has raised it's ugly head in the most overt form again. Proud to be an American? My answer it NO.
Butterfly (NYC)
@Martha White Trump most likely does not know Puerto Rico is a territory of the Unites States. Like the dunderheads at Fox News, he probably thinks Puerto Rico is just another of the Mexican countries like El Salvador and Honduras or whatever idiocy they proclaimed. Trump lies and his supporters lap it up. My question is does he believe what he's saying or does he just throw nasty red meat to his bigoted flock?
CliffHanger (San Diego, CA)
@Martha White Time for us to stop saying "we are so much better than this as a country", in response to all that the Trumpian years bring to the forefront. We are NOT so much better than this as a country. Absolutely NOT. Each and every "this" that comes up, the racism, ignorance, anti-intellectualism, misogyny, each greedy and corrupt act, is a huge, disgusting part of who we are as a nation right now. The only rapid response is to get as many people who disagree with those deplorable traits to register and vote the disgusting Republicans out at every level. Long term solutions are harder still. Maybe we get every red state white citizen a one month pass to travel abroad and see the "other" people out in the rest of the world out there....
ART (Athens, GA)
Puerto Ricans are not 99% Hispanic. First of all, Hispanic is not a race, it is a linguistic group. This is a perception Americans, in their obsession with race, always get wrong. Puerto Rico was the second European settlement in the Americas. The Dominican Republic was first. PR is older than the United States. PRs are descendants of Europeans and Africans brought in to work in sugar cane plantations. Many PRs are of Italian, French, German, and British descent. Through the years interracial marriages increased. Most of the Native Americans, the Taino, died from diseases or persecution. But a trace of Taino remains. Many PRs are blonde with blue eyes as is common as well in Spain, the country that colonized the island. Recent immigration from Europe dates even right before the USA took over the island from Spain in 1898 based on the incentives the Spanish government offered to Europeans to relocate to the island to prevent nationalism and low population. Therefore, an assessment based on race is not accurate. Most Americans refuse to accept these facts even when told about their misconceptions based on their desire for supremacy regardless of race. PR's decline is based on American corruption and those that support it in the island. Moreover, PR, has immigrants from everywhere, Asian and the Middle East. And PR is not what the media represents in selective photos. PRs are actually highly educated and cultured with a modern infrastructure in a beautiful island many envy.
dksmo (Rincón PR)
Excellent summary. This is a beautiful island with many talented and hard working people. In addition, PR is in a very strategic location in the Caribbean as one look at a map will confirm. There were good reasons the US kept control of PR after the Spanish-American war. The Chinese and others would love to have it. So it is in all our best interests to work toward a solution to the current problems.
Salix (Sunset Park, Brooklyn)
@ART I get what you are trying to say, but you have confused genetic ancestry with cultural affiliation. The former is simply want happened; the latter is what one chooses.
Larry Lundgren (Sweden)
@ART - Art I would like to add you to my list of a rare species, the New York Times comment writer who 1) Understands that the US Census Bureau system is a relic of America's racist past, and 2) can suggest to Charles Blow as I have done many times that he read What Is Your Race? - The Census and Our Flawed Efforts to Classify Americans by former USCB Director Kenneth Prewitt. In Ch. 11 of that book Prewitt explains why the Census should abandon the old system and replace it with an SES data based system. As you surely have noted, even the Newsletter Race/Related is firmly committed to racist terminology. R/R never has had a single article about American concepts of "race". Charles actually wrote in one column that when he writes about "blacks" he is only considering the ethnicity descended from a slave brought from West Africa, he does not write about Kenyan Americans, Caribbean Americans. I will send your comment to Lauretta Charlton, new Editor of R/R suggesting once again that she write about this. You may have seen the recent Gen Z article, young Americans write my race is Caucasian, my race is Southeast Asian and worse. my Gmail at Citizen US SE
James (US)
Mr Blow: I don't see any dispute of Trump's points. The PR govt is corrupt. If the infrastructure had been maintained the storm would have done less damage. Now they want the Fed to rebuild it all brand new.
There (Here)
@James Agreed, it’s Mr. blows position that the government in Puerto Rico is on the level and not corrupt, can anyone really say that with a straight face ? If you’ve been there, seen the infrastructure and see how these people are living, you would have a better idea
Midway (Midwest)
@James You destroyed his race argument in four succinct sentences. Good job!
James Ricciardi (Panama, Panama)
Let us remember that Puerto Rico has been a territory of the US for more than 100 years. Except for 8 years when Obama was president, Puerto Rico has been under white rule. So if it has been incompetently governed, at least 92% of that incompetence is directly attributable to white men. Anything PR's government has done has either been permitted by white rule or mandated by white rule. Sovereigns can compel their citizens to do anything, even under the US Constitution unless their sovereignty is guaranteed under the Constitution, i.e. the states. Even DC has no right of home rule in the absence of Congress permitting it to the extent it wants. Furthermore, Obama is not Trump's true target. He is a decoy. His true target is LBJ, a white man who championed and signed the civil rights act, the voting rights act, the fair housing act, Medicare, Medicaid, Foodstamps, Headstart, the law which prohibits discrimination in legal immigration based on race, religion or country of origin, etc. Trump prefers to attack people of color, Latinos, etc. than another white man (LBJ).
Spucky50 (New Hampshire)
Charles, you give him far too much credit. Trump lives in the moment, much like a cat or a dog. He throws out bait for the base, with no motive other than to excite and incite. It's all done spontaneously, without forethought, but plenty of malice. He is a unique being, without boundaries, rules, convention, civility, morality or ethics. I doubt if he has ever experienced remorse or guilt.
David Lawrence (Tucson, AZ)
Thank you, Charles for this discerning analysis of Trump's racism. Your clarity reminds me of the writings of James Baldwin. Every day brings a new and more outrages outpouring of invective and racist hatred from this demagogue who is our so-called "president". We have watched with shear terror the ever expanding paranoia, the utter ignorance of history and of civil discourse that this man presents to the world. We keep believing that it cannot get any worse and then it does. We keep hoping that Congress will finally take some action, and then it doesn't. It seems our only hope is the scale that history tells us will eventually lead us back to some form of sanity. In the meantime the damage seems almost irreparable.
Rick (Philadelphia)
Spot on! Controversy over aid to citizens of the US suffering as a result of a catastrophic hurricane. Is there no issue where this President does not seek to demonize, divide and destroy? As was asked of Senator McCarthy so many years ago, "Have you no shame, sir?"
fearing for (fascist america)
@Rick Exactly the problem. Trump and his followers have no sense of shame, or care about the other. Trump cares only about himself.
KMBC (New England)
@Rick. No. No, he doesn't.
Butterfly (NYC)
@Rick No. He does not.
Gabriel (PR)
Mr. Trump is simply echoing what millions of Americans think and feel about minorities (black and brown people). And that is scary.
rab (Upstate NY)
Re-watch the video of Trump throwing rolls of paper towel into the crowd of Hurricane victims at Cavalry Chapel in San Juan. The condescension is palpable.
John LeBaron (MA)
President Trump "tweeted that Puerto Rico’s government 'can’t do anything right' and that the island’s politicians are 'incompetent or corrupt'.” Has he looked at his own cabinet and other senior appointments? Has he reflected upon his nomination of multiple scofflaw Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve, just the latest in a long and woeful string of malefactors in the Trump Administration?
Dorothea (California)
Mr. Blow is the first person I read every day. He's an honest, articulate writer who's work is priceless.
ChristineMcM (Massachusetts)
DJT's racism is continuous and out in the open, and I for one am sick of it. He holds particular animus for (God forbid) the female major of San Juan, who dared to tell newscasters up here just exactly what was going on with the totally botched hurricane recovery assistance provided, from the the USSS Comfort sitting in the harbor unused to the lack of electricity in many areas more than a year after the hurricane. Whenever I think of how badly and meanly Trump has treated Puerto Rico, I see that image of him throwing paper towels to a room full of desperate people, as if they were trained seals. I don't know which is worse: Trump's maligning all people of color or his sadistic expectation that the people he has just attacked should be grateful for whatever he throws to them. The views of white nationalists like Trump and Steve King smack of a plantation mentality pure and simple. It used to be held in, but under Trump, it's exploded as if the president's first act in office was to allow everyone to shout out thoughts that used to be aired in private.
When Trump was a candidate, he described African-American communities as starkly bleak, devoid of education or jobs, but rampant with violence comparable to war zones. Then there was his sound bite about being for ‘law and order,’ more than hinting at the racist stereotype that it would take a white man to stop the criminality from non-white people . Nothing has changed in the interim. Trump speaks for prejudice and down to those who don’t look like him.
TWShe Said (USA)
US continues its horrific treatment of its "colony" knowing full well its own "colony" mistreatment galvanized spectacular results through overthrow of government. It just does't want Puerto Rico to have what it has--cruel, unjust verges on sadism
Bassman (U.S.A.)
Welcome back, Charles. Your insight and conscience were missed.
Corbin (Minneapolis)
Does anyone else notice that Bernie is the only political figure who seems to actually care about Puerto Rico?
Laurie (USA)
I'm sure Trump would have had an entirely different attitude about the Puerto Ricans if only they had the common sense to have been born white.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville, USA)
@Laurie: Puerto Ricans ARE largely white. What race do you imagine they are? Hint: HISPANIC IS NOT A is a language and culture.
samuel (charlotte)
The island of Puerto Rico and its electrical company did not become the fiscal mess that they are currently due to the competence, efficiency or honesty of its leadership. For President Trump to call them out on what many Puerto Ricans like myself know is true, may sound offensive to those who dislike his blunt style , but does not make it any less true. I prefer his over the top honesty to the hypocrisy of politicians both stateside and in Puerto Rico.
Kay Ketzenberger (Odessa, TX)
@samuel The fact that PR's infrastructure was in poor shape does not mean that the damage from a Category 4 or 5 hurricane would not still have have been devastating. The Virgin Islands was practically wiped off the map, and their infrastructure wasn't in as bad shape as PRs. Can we please not blame PR for a natural disaster? Not to mention this country has done a great job of bloodsucking profits from PR ever since it was mase a territory.
samuel (charlotte)
@Kay Ketzenberger The electrical company's infrastructure problems were known for OVER A DECADE without any attempt at correction. Leadership knew that a high category hurricane would be devastating. Yet they squandered resources while charging Puerto Ricans much higher electricity prices than you pay in Odessa, TX ( by a factor of at least 3) You are obviously not aware of the incompetence, mismanagement and corruption of Puerto Rico's AEE( Autoridad de Energia Electrica).
The Dude (Spokane, WA)
@samuel. You call it honesty. I call it white supremacy and racism. I’ll take hypocrisy over those two attributes any day.
ManhattanWilliam (New York, NY)
Puerto Rico should either become a state or detach and become independent from the US. When you don't vote, or have representation in Congress, then a man like Trump and his ilk don't care 2 cents for what you think or say, it's as simple as that. At the same time, didn't we supposedly fight for our own independence under a slogan that went something like "taxation without representation is tyranny?"
Kay Ketzenberger (Odessa, TX)
@ManhattanWilliam Both of those will require the permission of Congress, which is unlikely in the extreme. It's not like PR has independent government-it is governed in every that really matters by the U.S. And it is NOT governed in PR's interests.
SR (Bronx, NY)
Thus the also-unrepresented District of Columbia's particular license plates. I don't want Puerto Rico to enter the Union until any danger of their being pulled wrongward by the GOP Congress and Court tyrannies is removed, their incessant Obamacare attacks are repealed and replaced with a sane Medicare for All system, and our stupid and dangerous RealCreepyID law is banished from the books and memory. Better we support an independent one with our military and money at arm's length, then add their star to the flag once we're re-saneified and Sane states are no longer being targeted or outright robbed by corporate and red-state welfare.
Tom Powell (Baltimore)
@Kay Ketzenberger All the more reason to let PR have its Independence. Give PR a handsome dowry of 100 or 200 billion dollars; let PR govern itself and let US be shed of this burden.
Craig Lucas (Putnam Valley, NY)
Time and again this wonderful writer provides the moral, historical clarity we need.
George Hawkeye (Austin, Texas)
The premise that white people control people of color is wrong. Isn't the Governor of Puerto Rico and the Mayor of San Juan white? And aren't they making decisions on behalf of their constituents ? Last time I was there there were beautiful locals with blue eyes, light hair and fair skin, which is to be expected from a former Spanish colony. Even in the most ravaged areas of the island there is the type of dignified people you'd see in Spain or Italy. They deserve a better advocate to force the hand of our politicians to help them rebuild their homes and businesses, not reporters with a political agenda. Unfortunately, Puerto Rico is a protectorate (estado libre y asociado) not a territory or state of the United States. Since 1898 this arrangement has arguably benefitted the island more than the U.S. mainland. Moreover, due to linguistic and cultural idiosyncrasies there has been a long standing political opposition for Puerto Rico to become a state of the United States, so is this a reason it would be hard to justify an inordinate amount of money spent at the expense of American states? Many of my friends left the island years ago because they were disappointed about the negligence of past administrations, not Trump's, in maintaining the infrastructure of the island. We can blame Trump for manipulating the money or his utter ignorance, but there is plenty of blame to go around for white and black legislators, past and present.
stu freeman (brooklyn)
@George Hawkeye: The fact that our citizens in Puerto Rica still do not have the right to vote in American elections or to elect their own members of Congress would suggest that the "arrangement" you refer to benefits Republicans here far more than it does them. In fact, it's kind of like the argument that Israelis often use to justify their occupation of Palestinian Arab lands in the West Bank and elsewhere: they're doing better under us than they would be doing otherwise but let's make sure not to give them the vote just in the event that they disagree.
Rosanna Louise (California)
@George Hawkeye Charles Blow confirms what American industrialists used to overtake countries like Puerto Rico: without white governance these "poor incompetent brown, black, and mixed race" people cannot possibly be in control of their own land. Puerto Rico has been used by the United States and many gained enormous wealth by that use. We owe Puerto Rico for the past riches to which we helped ourselves, and for the hurricane that destroyed many parts of that island. Trump is not the Bean Counter in Chief, and his tight closed fist withholding money is his modus operandi to prove to his followers that he is in charge. Help Puerto Rico and the Americans who live there.
Steven McCain (New York)
@George Hawkeye You missed the whole idea of the column. When disasters happen on the mainland we put out the fires without scolding the people for smoking in bed. When neglected levees failed after a hurricane do we withhold aid and scold them for not taking better care of them. Telling us the history of the island is avoiding the real problem with Trump. Trump can't get past the fact that "those" people don't look like him.
Rick Gage (Mt Dora)
If the man doesn't know that NYC isn't in Germany then one can assume he doesn't know that Puerto Rico is an American territory. And what is with his obsession with gratitude? It's not his money their spending, he doesn't pay his taxes. Everyone in Puerto Rico should write President Trump a letter, on paper towels, thanking him for his specific contribution to the rebuilding of their nation.
Norma (Albuquerque, NM)
@Rick Gage They are part of our nation, although not with state status.
Anne (CT)
American history, as taught in elementary schools in the U.S., perpetuates racism. Children, in 2019, are still being taught the history of European supremacy in the creation of "our nation". It's no mystery to me why Trump's racist message resonates with some people because this is what they were taught in school. Even "state of the art" writing curriculums from respected universities cite resources for teachers based on European heroes excluding women, africans and indigenous people.
Midway (Midwest)
@Annenn The news media recently showed a ... gathering of black people in California mourning the death of a rapper whoes name recollects the old comedian who starred on Match Game Nipsy Russell -- this one name Nipsy Hussle. Something happened, a gun went off?, and all of a sudden the crowd fled in all directions, tripping over each other and almost causing a trample scene. Here at home... The scenes of those black people scattering in chaos, it was sad to see. It is something we have seen before too. You don't have to "teach" children these images from history books, some of them live the black on black violence in their lives daily. It's not what we are teaching them in school, it is what we are teaching them in their homes and streeets and communities. If you want to live better than that, please do not blame it on white people.
Conservative Democrat (WV)
I’m all for aid to Puerto Rico to rebuild. But what Mr. Blow does not mention is that residents of Puerto Rico generally do not have to report income received from sources within Puerto Rico on their U.S. income tax return. That means no federal personal income tax, unless you’re a federal employee or earn income outside Puerto Rico.
rizzosmith (Seattle, WA)
@Conservative Democrat Are you equally concerned that they be represented in government, as well as being taxed? Why no mention of this? Why focus on just the lack of contribution?
Conservative Democrat (WV)
@rizzosmith Well, on the bright side, at least it’s not taxation without representation. It’s neither at the federal level in PR.
stu freeman (brooklyn)
@Conservative Democrat: So what? Trump doesn't seem to report his income either.
Bruce (New Mexico)
And most of the FEMA funds distributed for Puerto Rico went to the usual crew of U.S. based, politically connected disaster response and reconstruction contractors.
Rima Regas (Southern California)
@Bruce Some of it was redirected to the US Treasury Department and then sent on to ICE and the border patrol. Talk about perverse!
Jenifer (Issaquah)
@Bruce Yes. The way the FEMA system is rigged right now most of our money is just getting skimmed off from contractors hiring other contractors. These people LOVE global warming. The more disasters the more money.
See also