FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

American Ignorance About Puerto Rico

Here is a link to a rather depressing survey, one which affirms that nearly half of Americans are not aware of Puerto Rico’s status as a U.S. territory. After years of sobering evidence which only further illuminates the utter failure of our education system, another “50 percent of Americans believe an untrue thing to be a true thing” survey does not surprise nearly as much as it should.

Yet, in the wake of the utterly devastating Hurricane Maria and atrocious levels of misery and squalor inflicted upon the island, I think it proper to explore the abstract ways in which this territory not fully part of the U.S.

We begin with the most abstract and least fact-based subset of sociological evaluations: culture. Refer, once again, to the poll above. After you make your obligatory Idiocracy references, consider what this poll suggests about cultural perceptions: to a large portion of the American population, Puerto Rico is a foreign land. Consequently, the island’s status as “not-America” is held as truth by this demographic; to make matters worse, much of this demographic also consists of the types who equate “not-America” with “inferior” and “inconsequential.” This demographic constitutes half of the voting base; they have political influence, and, with Donald Trump in the White House, their toxic ideology has prevailed. Hell, it prevailed long before that; after all, why else would popular support back the War on Drugs, or the Iraq War, or constant U.S. military budget increases?

Head Shitflinger Donald Trump responded to the catastrophe in Puerto Rico, after days of ignoring in in favor of spewing bile at the NFL, by first using the frighteningly fatuous excuse of “it’s in the middle of a VERY BIG ocean” to rationalize his sheer uselessness, and subsequently claiming that Puerto Rico “[wants] everything to be done for them.”

Needless to say, Trump has proven once again that he is an entitled, soulless, ass-breathing prick. However, Trump’s political influence is but a symptom of these same cultural conditions that lead to people asking such questions as “Why should the U.S. help Puerto Rico? We should focus on America First!” Culturally, this systemic ignorance (mixed with your Percent Daily Value of xenophobia) has practically rendered Puerto Rico a foreign land. Well, at least they have some political influence… right?

Here is the thing about that: Puerto Ricans cannot vote in any U.S. federal elections. From TripSavvy, a travel guide website: “They enjoy all the benefits of citizenship, save one: Puerto Ricans who live in Puerto Rico cannot vote for the U.S. President in the general elections (those who live in the United States are allowed to vote).” I am unclear as to what those other ‘benefits of citizenship’ are, but one thing is certain: Puerto Rico is at a major disadvantage. In my U.S. History class, we just finished researching the grievances of the 13 Colonies right before the American Revolution, with one highly salient factor being the lack of representation in the British Parliament. One cannot help but draw the historical parallel; we will keep on celebrating Independence Day by keeping our neighbors awake and frightening our dogs, and yet, our government is inflicting upon its territories those same conditions which drove us to the tipping point of revolution. The government presents Puerto Rico with an illusion of sovereignty by allowing them to elect their own leaders, yet the U.S. Congress still wields the most control over the island’s governance.

Watching as these storms relentlessly ravage cities has been entirely miserable, and for as much as not “politicizing” natural disasters makes for a lovely pipe dream, it is impossible so long as there is political disagreement over such morally and scientifically straightforward issues as the acknowledgment of climate change, or whether we should even bother helping our own fucking territory. Xenophobia, ignorance, colonialism… these piss stains are so deeply embedded in the fabric of our society, and as long as they persist, the world will continue to be an unbearable place for so many people.

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail