On Thursday morning, as he is wont to do, Donald Trump woke up and decided he want to insult wide swaths of people by tweeting insensitive, nonsensical things about a natural disaster or an immense tragedy or a governmental failure. This time, his tweets encompassed all three, as he said “3,000 people did not die” due to Hurricane Maria and that the death toll was inflated “by the Democrats in order to make [him] look as bad as possible when [he] was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico.”
Not only are the tweets factually inaccurate, but insulting to the memory of those thousands who died, partially because of the inaction and unpreparedness of the US government. The National Weather Service’s recognized one year anniversary of Hurricane Maria is this Sunday, the 16th.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora was asked about the tweets before Boston’s Thursday night game against the Blue Jays, and he said they were “disrespectful” to Puerto Rico, but he also said that “[he] hate[s] that people that make it a political issue. This is about human beings.”
Which, while maybe true in sentiment isn’t a realistic way to look at things. While Cora takes this personally as a native Puerto Rican who saw firsthand the destruction and suffering on the island, it’s impossible to divorce that suffering from the lack of a government response.
He did make a smart point about the lesser amount of around-the-clock coverage of the aftereffects and the long tail of suffering on the island. he said,
“... the aftereffects, people don’t talk about that. And when you don’t have food, you don’t have water, no communication, no medicine, then this happened.”
But he also let Trump and the U.S. government off the hook for the mistakes made and the lack of help on the ground for victims of the storm when he said,
“... One thing for sure, we — the government helped. We do feel that they helped us. I don’t know if it was efficient, it was enough, I don’t know.”
And like I said, hey man, thank you for helping us. He went down there, he did what he did. I hate talking about politics and all that, but I think this is more than politics.
He then backtracked a little and called out FEMA’s missteps in their planning and followthrough on the ground, detailing the struggles still ongoing for Puerto Ricans all around the island.
We know a lot of people that right now, they’re still suffering. They don’t have a roof. They have a tarp. And there’s people in the country like in the mountains, they have no water. They just found out, there was a military base in a town in the East Coast that they found, I don’t know how many bottles of water. Just in the runway. And it’s been there for six months. And FEMA kind of like fumbled that one, from what I heard. There’s a story after story after story.
It’s hard to separate a situation of this magnitude from politics completely, but it also makes sense that Cora would want to focus on the actual problems and not the current political issues and biases that left thousands of people sick and dying on the island, with wide swaths of no power, water, or communication. His message might have been mixed trying to make that clear, but he also reiterated his thanks to organizations like the Astros and Red Sox that dropped everything to send supplies and planes to the island as soon as possible.
Cora did end his comments by saying “I respect him. He’s the president of the United States. But I don’t agree with a lot of stuff that he says about us.” That sums up a lot of the difficulty in these comments. This won’t be the first or last time that a figure in sports stops short of fully indicting a president for his words or actions out of deference to the office.
In this case, Cora is clearly not happy with the dismissal of his fellow Puerto Ricans and what they’ve gone through. I don’t mean to come off as being overly hard on Cora here, as Trump has proven time and again that he’s the dunce in these situations. If only he felt comfortable going one step further and pinning some responsibility on the man who has done so much more than simply be “disrespectful.”