JAWED: Notre Dame donations can have larger impact

Opinion Column: If Not Our Own, Then Someone's

As the devastating structure fire destroyed the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris on April 15, people all over the world mourned the loss of the beautiful historic structure. Multiple generous donations have flooded in to help restore the cathedral, reflecting the importance and significance that the structure held for many. 

The White House was among the ones to pledge all necessary support to France in its efforts to rebuild the structure. 

“So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!” President Donald J. Trump tweeted.

Whereas it is important to acknowledge efforts and political angle of the White House in helping France to rebuild such an important icon, it is even more crucial to look at the big picture of where the world is standing. 

More support has been offered to rebuilding a building in France than has been toward America’s own people. Several bills which would provide support for Puerto Rico were recently defeated in Congress at the behest of Trump, according to NPR.

Flint, Michigan is still without clean running water, years after the tragedy started. Puerto Rico is still largely devastated after being hit with natural disasters. 

Citizens in Puerto Rico are still struggling without resources, food and support. 

This critique of Trump’s actions does not question his helping hand toward France, but rather questions why it has not been extended to his own people who have been facing potentially life-threatening calamities for years. 

Trump has signed H.R. 2266, which authorizes certain funding for Puerto Rico such as food assistance, but no more disaster relief is being offered.

Another big thing that has been in question is why no acknowledgement or support has been offered to the several churches that were set on fire in Louisiana. 

Local churches have to set up GoFundMe pages to raise money to rebuild instead of receiving any support, condolences or financial assistance from the local or state government. Trump did not even tweet about it.

It has been more than 18 months since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, killing nearly 3,000 people, destroying much of the infrastructure and leaving much of the U.S. territory still without adequate power.

“Make America Great Again” comes with a caveat when Trump is not as willing to help people form Puerto Rico or Flint or Louisiana. As these places struggle for financial assistance, financially stable Western Europe is being accommodated. Politically, this is a powerful move for Trump. What would make America great again, though, is if Americans were also being helped and aided with the same enthusiasm. 

None of this is to say that Paris should not be helped at this time of need. It remains an important religious and otherwise significant icon, but more important are the lives of people suffering in America. More important are the churches burnt down in America. Less important is trying to earn brownie points with France.  

Malaika Jawed is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. Her   column, "If Not Our Own, Then Someone's," runs on alternate Fridays. 


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