WANG: Trump’s behavior during disaster is unpresidential
Opinions Column: A Third Person Perspective
When Hurricane Maria approached Puerto Rico, it became one of the most catastrophic storms the island had encountered in 85 years. The entire island was underwater and communication between families became impossible. Entire buildings collapsed and now the entirety of the island is in devastation over the loss of their families, their homes and their memories.
Some people didn’t even know who or what they lost because of the lack of communication. Many just assumed the worst.
Even in a time of such tragedy and desperation, with an entire island of people clambering to save themselves and their neighbors, President Donald J. Trump somehow managed to find a way to make it even worse. Instead of rallying hope and effort into helping people recover what they lost, our president’s complete lack of sympathy poured out like a torrential flood of embarrassment and shame that no American should be proud to endorse.
When Trump briefly toured the disaster in Puerto Rico, the citizens were met with this cringe-worthy statement of, “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack.” That’s the best he had to offer to people who just lost their families? What about the people who lived their last day swallowing lungfuls of water or being crushed under buildings? The issue of our budget is really the best you can offer to people who became orphans, or even childless?
As if having a president who believes reality-television humor is appropriate post-disaster, everything went completely downhill as Trump went off the rails. He told Puerto Rico, “If you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds of hundreds of people that died and you look at what happened here…16 people verses in the thousands.”
Let’s leave it to our president to make it a competition. Let’s leave it to our president to completely undermine the pain and suffering of the 16 people who were confirmed dead at the time who also had families.
The entirety of his attempt to even begin to address what had happened in Puerto Rico has almost become the last straw for many Americans. Fine. We voted Trump in office. You could even say that by doing so, we were complicit in the spreading of his sexist, discriminatory, racist beliefs by putting him in that position of power. But lobbing rolls of paper towels like it’s a basketball rally to those who lacked electricity, medical supplies, food, water or the ability to even make a phone call?
Whether you love Trump for his policies or not, you have to admit that his actions in Puerto Rico weren’t just distasteful, but absolutely embarrassing. If not, I’m genuinely concerned for our country’s lack of regard for other people. We should be ashamed. We should be angry. We should be voicing our frustration at our president for making it look like, as Americans, we put ourselves first instead of validating other people’s losses. We shouldn’t have to be content with the fact that our president literally did the most disastrous job anyone could have possibly done in addressing a population of 3 million people.
Maybe it’s time for everyone to agree that it’s okay to dislike our president because of who he inherently is. Even when Trump called Rosie O’Donnell a pig, or when he bragged about his attempt to get with a married women or how he likes to “grab them by the p***y,” everybody chose to overlook what he said because people believed that he shouldn’t be condemned for what he chose to say in private. Some people even believed that because this kind of talk regarding women is so completely normalized, Trump shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences for saying what every other guy is saying (which by the way, has always been a terrible reason for overlooking the morally questionable things someone has done). Regardless, even if someone was capable of overlooking all of that, even if someone was capable of separating our president from his policies and his “locker room talk,” is it really okay if we don’t condemn his behavior this time around?
I understand that a lot of people are going to have issues with my condemnation of Trump’s character, and I genuinely would be interested in hearing what you have to say about it. When an entire island of people have lost everything because of a disaster, how is it remotely acceptable to have a president who cares so little?
Ashley Wang is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in English and minoring in philosophy. Her column, "A Third Person Perspective," runs on alternate Fridays.
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