The Tragedy in Puerto Rico and Other Things People Aren’t Paying Enough Attention To

Posted on: May 30, 2018, by :

By Amy Foxworthy

Hurricane Maria Demolished Puerto Rico 8 Months Ago and Everything There is Still Terrible

A Harvard study released Tuesday estimated that at least 4,645 people are dead as a result of Hurricane Maria, yet the official death toll was only reported as 64.  For comparison, 1,833 Americans died when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005.  That makes Maria the second deadliest hurricane in U.S. history, and the deadliest in well over 100 years. When Katrina devastated New Orleans and the U.S. Government acted embarrassingly awful about it, Kanye West shouted on live television that George Bush didn’t care about Black People.  It could certainly be argued that Donald Trump cares even less about Puerto Ricans. Hurricane Maria did an estimated 90 billion dollars in damages to Puerto Rico, and after 8 months, thousands of Puerto Ricans are still without power, water, and crucial utilities and services.

According to Media Matters, “The first Sunday after the storm, the five major political talk shows cumulatively dedicated less than one minute to coverage. And the overall coverage of the crisis sharply declined after President Donald Trump visited the U.S. territory on October 3; a Media Matters study found that prime-time cable news coverage of Puerto Rico’s recovery plummeted after that date.”

The death toll in Puerto Rico is 72 times higher than we thought, yet as astounding as that fact is, it was exceedingly overshadowed by the news of Roseanne’s television sitcom getting cancelled.

Our Government Lost over a Thousand Children…Like…as in, No One Knows Where They Are

There are more than one immigration related stories at play here.  Donald Trump recently stated that he would separate migrant parents from their children if they crossed the United States border illegally.  Then, government officials stated that they had lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children.   It falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health and Human Services to keep track of and place these children until they can be either deported or placed with family in the United States.  After a sudden influx of unaccompanied minors (around 7,000) into the U.S. in 2014, HHS was tasked with placing the children in holding facilities or with families.  In a recent survey following up on the status of those children, it was reported that HHS could not account for 1,475 of those children.

Among the many reasons to be alarmed about this is the potential for these children to become victims of human trafficking or other horrible crimes.  Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) recently stated a hearing that “HHS has a responsibility to better track these children so they aren’t trafficked or abused.”

There are families desperately fleeing their homelands because of violence, crime, and extreme and impoverished conditions.  They are risking everything to bring their children to safety, only to be brutally separated from them upon arrival in order to be made an example of and to deter others from attempting to come to the United States.

Guns Have Killed More People in American Schools than in our Military this Year

In the 21 weeks since 2018 began, there have been 23 school shootings in the United States.  That averages out to over one school shooting per week.  Thirty-three people have died by being shot in American schools in only 4 months. By contrast, 29 active U.S. military members were killed in that same timeframe.

There is really nothing else to add to this one; just let it register. At the very least, the statement is extremely unsettling and disheartening, if not a complete and utter outrage.

The Appointee to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is A Conversion Therapy-Supporting Bigot

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appointed anti-LGBTQ leader Tony Perkins to this 2-year position in May.  Responsibilities of this “position” include “’monitor[ing] the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad” and making policy recommendations to the president, the Secretary of State and Congress.’

Mr. Perkins has quite the long record of attempting to deny rights to the LGBTQ community under the guise of a religious freedom stance.  Among the instances of his bigotry are:

  • Supporting a “kill the gays” bill in Uganda. Uganda proposed legislation that would order the death penalty for being homosexual and Perkins said that it was “upholding moral conduct.”
  • Said that the high suicide rate in homosexual teenagers was because they knew they were “abnormal.”
  • Compared gay conversion therapy to saving someone from a burning building, and tried to have conversion therapy inserted as part of the GOP platform.
  • Wrote to encourage all evangelical leaders to write to Trump to disallow transgendered individuals to serve in the military, and co-wrote a report with Pence to justify the ban.
  • Called LGBTQ advocates “pawns of Satan.”
  • Said that an “anti-Christian holocaust was imminent,” and said LGBTQ advocates were “going to start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians.”

Call me skeptical, but I don’t feel like Perkins is going to offer any beneficial recommendations to Trump to help those in countries where LGBTQ people are victims of oppression in the name of religion.

If only we were bombarded even half as much about these important issues as we are about Kanye West’s latest shenanigans, what Roseanne is tweeting, or what people wore to the royal wedding.

Donate to victims in Puerto Rico:

Amy Foxworthy is an Indianapolis-based writer concerned with cultural, civil rights, and social justice issues.

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