Trump's pathological treatment of Puerto Rico | Helen Ubiñas

Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria
Efrain Diaz Figueroa spends the afternoon sitting on a chair next to the remains of the house of his sister destroyed by Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Monday, Oct. 9, 2017. Figueroa, who was visiting for a month at her sister Eneida’s house when the Hurricane Maria hit the area, also lost her home in the Arroyo community. He waits for a relative to come and take him to Boston. He says that he is 70 years old and all his life working can’t continue in these conditions in Puerto Rico. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

I didn’t think I could be more stunned by the president’s willful ignorance and cruelty, but then I woke up Thursday morning to his sickening tweet about Puerto Rico.

It felt like an extra-hard kick to the gut. Hadn’t we all already watched him chastise Puerto Rican public officials for throwing “our budget a little out of whack” like a bunch of children who spent too much on candy? And then toss paper towels to desperate hurricane survivors, who didn’t — and still don’t — have power or water or food?

I could not stop watching that clip or stop seething over his disrespectful and dismissive treatment of U.S. citizens. One more time for the kids in the back: Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. 

And then Trump doubled down. Or piled on, or whatever someone does when he dances on the graves of others with his now all-too-familiar morning toxic-tweet dump.

A couple of months after he assured U.S. citizens in hurricane-hit Texas and Louisiana that the country will be with them until the end, he tells U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico that they are on their own, that “FEMA, the Military & the First Responders” can’t be there forever.

As others have pointed out, we’ve been in Afghanistan for 16 years.

Journalist Tanzina Vega hit the nail on the head when she tweeted:

I suggested that we not only don’t listen to them, but we also don’t care about them or value them.

I’ve spent my career seeing that up close and personal.

You’re killed and white, we care.

You’re drug addicted and white, we care.

You’re white, and your life and your story are valued in a way that people of color are still dreaming of and fighting for.

Which is why even though I don’t know or care much about sports, I’m disgusted by the suspension of ESPN anchor Jemele Hill and the push to punish NFL players who don’t stand for the flag in protest of police brutality against black Americans. (Again, for the kids in the back: It’s not about disrespecting the flag or the military.)

There is a long list of things people of color get punished or killed for in this country.

Driving, walking, questioning authority. Truth-telling. Truth-telling as an athlete, an academic, an anchor, a journalist, a citizen of the United States — by way of Puerto Rican parents — who is here to tell you that if you are not disgusted by Trump’s pathological treatment of your fellow U.S. citizens, you are part of the problem. And the problem clearly goes deeper than the charlatan-in-chief. During a CNN interview, Rep. Scott Perry (R., Pa.) defended Trump’s threat to end relief efforts in Puerto Rico and accused the media of making up reports about the desperate circumstances on the island.

My uncle in Manati, Puerto Rico, isn’t making up the devastation he witnessed when the hurricane destroyed his home and the desperation that now exists all around him.

The son and grandmother of a frantically waiting New Jersey woman weren’t making up the life-and-death situation they found themselves in.

The media is not making anything up. We don’t have to. In our wildest dreams, we couldn’t make up the depth of depravity at the hands of the president and his supporters.

Here’s some truth that’s not new, but still hurts:

Those “Hate Has No Home Here” signs are bull. I say that as someone who has one in front of her house, though not for long.

Hate absolutely has a home here. It bought property and settled into our cities, our country, and our White House.

God bless America.