Donald Trump finally went to Puerto Rico to witness Hurricane Maria’s destruction 13 days after landfall, and inso doing, made one of the most callous gestures I’ve seen by an adult in power. It was the Paper Towel incident.
Watch it here
This seems harmless at first, and in fact, some of the faces in the crowd are smiling. Many are even recording the event and photographing their president.
But this was sick. It downplayed the seriousness of the event with a stunt from the halftime show of an NBA game. Thank god he didn’t shoot MAGA t-shirts from a cannon!
Trump was giving people who had nothing after Maria, very little, and nearly two weeks — and a round of golf — after she struck. And to make it worse, he was doing it with a complete lack of seriousness. There are even reports that he wanted to throw cans of chicken into the crowd before being properly handled by his aides.
When people go 13 days without water and electricity and food, they become desperate. Desperate to the point of doing what’s needed to survive. If Trump wanted to see people lose their humanity, having them grovel and jostle for basic necessities —like food in the form of canned chicken—would be one way. That image would dehumanize them.
A crowd of brown-skinned people fighting tooth and nail, becoming violent for chicken would be a useful exhibit for his most ardent supporters.
There is an inherent cruelty in not giving aid to your people in a timely manner, and even more so in making them fight for aid while entertaining others. It was reminiscent of a scene from William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, a story that explores the bounds of human decency in the crucible of desperation. Trump is our Lord of the Flies.
Update: The Lord’s reaction