The image above? It’s from what is commonly known as the Berlin Airlift, a key part of the Marshall Plan. The tripartite group (US+GB+France) opposed Russia after they occupied Berlin and eastern Germany not long after Germany’s surrender in 1945, and they mounted a massive airlift to feed all the people trapped in West Berlin after Soviet forces blockaded the isolated western half of the “city-state”.
I bring this up only in passing to draw your attention to the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, where, due primarily to a lack of planning, 3.5 million U.S. citizens now find themselves living smack dab in the middle of Trumptopia. Do note that two days after Maria scrubbed the island bare Mr. Trump spent a few days in New Jersey playing golf, and who managed to inflame racial tensions further with a few choice words about certain NFL players.
Yet, one could logically assume that Mr. Trump, having spent his life involved in the construction of large commercial projects, would know something about the logistics of mounting large-scale operations of this kind. With reports coming in now of thousands of containers of food and medicine rotting on the docks in San Juan, and this happening because there’s no way to transport the stuff because there’s no fuel and no way to call drivers so they can report for work, you’d think someone, somewhere, might have figured out that massive relief operations need a little planning.
Not so, apparently, in Mr. Trump’s White House. While the president has taken great pains to tell his many acolytes that he is indeed a “very smart person” and that he has great experience putting up many great buildings, one might also reasonably conclude at this point that he had other people with more experience than he take care of all the trivial details, people better suited to the task. But…where are they now?
So, the question lingering in the fetid air around San Juan, and, indeed, all around the world, is: will Hurricane Maria’s assault on Puerto Rico end up being Trump’s Katrina?
There are many reasons why it should, but one very profound reason why it won’t.
It’s all a lie. Fake news. Part of the fourth estate’s nonstop assault on the truth. On Trump.
The problem with that whole line of thought is rather simple, however, and it sounds a little like this: relief efforts have been better in Houston and Miami than in San Juan, as both Houston and Miami are full of white people. Puerto Rico is full of politically hamstrung brown people who somehow just don’t count as much as mainlanders.
And as people begin to die down on that island paradise, expect to hear more and more of this kind of thinking, too.
This summer has turned into a kind of racial reckoning for America, yet I think as part of the resurgent populist, neo-nationalist agenda that is gripping our country, this kind of viral hatred is fast becoming a contagion capable of spreading around the globe. Think Myanmar, or Hungary, or Poland. Think of the near victory by the alt-right in German elections last Sunday. Think of Mr. Trump’s speech last week in Alabama, attended by architects of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
I wrote a year-or-so ago that the looming political reality facing the global elite is how to manage what they’re starting to call The Great Contraction, i.e., how do you feed 7+ billion people on a warming planet that might, just might, be able to sustain life for one-tenth that number. Europe is grappling with the almost limitless pressure of panicked first waves of immigration, yet already the first signs of cracks in the facade are showing up. The question you hear sounds a little like this: How can a single region, such as Europe, possibly survive when human tidal waves threaten to overwhelm decades of effort to reconstruct and restore the continent?
It’s a good question. Full of racism and hate, too. It’s not about coming together to solve our problems, it’s about saving “what’s mine.” It’s Fear. And ignorance fuels fear.
On a related front, the racism front, we continue to see signs that Mr. Trump has chosen, time and time again, to be a divider, not a uniter, and if you have a few minutes I’d like you to watch a short video on YouTube (the link is here). In it, you’ll hear the Superintendent of the US Air Force Academy address his students, faculty, and staff after a racial incident at the adjacent Academy Prep School this last week, where the ‘N’ word was painted on a student’s dorm room door. Contrast this speech with Mr. Trump’s divisive response to Charlottesville, Mr. Trump’s divisive words in Alabama, or his divisive deceit when talking about how well the White House is doing responding to Puerto Rico’s need. And let’s not even mention his ‘fire the bastards’ rants about the NFL, or the “beautiful, great” Republican health care bills – that would disproportionately hammer women and the poor.
On still another front, here’s an interesting video segment from Vice News featuring The Terminator himself on current Republican efforts to gerrymander voting districts in North Carolina – and elsewhere (the link is here), and if you saw the original broadcast, you watched a Republican operative express a ‘win at all cost’ attitude during his interview. No mention about what’s best for the country, none at all, only what’s best for his party. Win, win at any cost. Win, until you can’t even see how much you’ve lost, how much you’ve destroyed.
And Bill Maher used his New Rules segment this week to look at the web of lies surrounding Mr. Trump as he sinks deeper into his Russia Quagmire. The video is vintage Maher, which is to say it’s well-researched yet biased as hell, full of profanity and, one assumes, a grain or two of truth. It’s almost funny, too.
If you watch all three videos, and I hope you will, sit back after and realize one thing: this is the new normal. Don’t you just love it? Well, that’s Sunday in the Sun for you. It’s still sunny out, even if it is raining like hell.
I went to two football games this week. The Packers vs the Bengals last Sunday was perhaps the best NFL game I’ve ever been to, while Thursday’s match-up against the Bears was notable more for the pre-game National Anthem goings-on than for the game itself. I was sitting with the parents of one of the players on the field and was a little intrigued by the chants of USA! USA! that began during the anthem. The teams were standing on their sidelines with their arms linked – in a show of unity for African Americans who’ve been abused by police for decades – yet, somehow, I don’t think that’s what was on the minds of all those people chanting during the anthem.
See you next week.