Social media users are once again condemning the president for his Twitter habits, or more specifically, what gets prioritized on his feed. While Puerto Rico is devastated after Hurricane Maria, Donald Trump has been tweeting nonstop about the NFL. His tweets have been laser focused on the latter, and people aren’t having it.
The NFL drama started in earnest on Friday, Sept. 22, when Trump called out the players who had knelt during the national anthem while at a rally for Senator Luther Strange of Alabama. During the rally, Trump referred to them in profane terms and called for them to be fired from their respective teams. Then on Sunday, what was seen as the first day when most Americans tuned into the start of the football season, the president proceeded to send out a series of tweets opposing the actions of players like Colin Kaepernick, who made headlines for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality against people of color.
In response to the president’s inflammatory remarks about the NFL, a wave of people — including those who had not previously been vocal about the issue — rallied to stand behind the players. At games across the country, coaches and fellow players made statements, both verbal and symbolic, in solidarity of their teammates’ right to exercise their First Amendment rights and speak out against racially based violence. All day Sunday, Twitter users shared the hashtags #TakeAKnee and #TakeTheKnee, referring to the way players had protested during the national anthem at the start of games in order to protest police brutality.
In the meantime, while the president has been directing most of his attention to calling for NFL players to be fired, the people of Puerto Rico are awaiting relief after getting pummeled by Hurricane Maria the week of Sept. 19.
Trump tweeted about Puerto Rico back on Sept. 19, but the topic has since taken a backseat on his social media feed.
In contrast to his response on Puerto Rico, Trump tweeted numerous times about Florida following Hurricane Irma. The president also sent multiple messages of solidarity and promises of support and air following Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas and Louisiana the hardest, and after the earthquakes that razed buildings in Mexico, killing scores of people.
Multiple users drew attention to the staggering number of people who are affected by Hurricane Maria’s devastation in the Caribbean, particularly in Puerto Rico.
The island of 3.5 million people faces weeks — possibly months — with limited if any access to water, electricity, or communications. At least 13 people have been killed by the hurricane.
The reports that, thanks to a dam that is been put under siege by the storm, some 70,000 Puerto Ricans were told to evacuate before catastrophic flooding. Thousands were in harm’s way, the article said.
MSNBC host Joy Reid pointed out that two U.S. territories — Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands — are receiving much different treatment by the president compared with his responses to Irma and Harvey, which both hit the mainland United States.
Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, not a state, but it is definitely part of the United States. As a territory, its residents are U.S. citizens and it is eligible to receive federal funding — such as in times of natural disasters — but not vote in presidential elections.
Many users, like and Daily Banter writer Bob Cesca below, have taken to calling Hurricane Maria “Trump’s Katrina,” referencing the fumbled response President George W. Bush made in 2005 with the hurricane that devastated New Orleans.
As MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin points out, the numbers don’t lie. On Twitter, the airspace Trump has devoted to talking about sports versus the tragic natural disaster show a stark contrast.
Journalist Matthew Yglesias joked about the obsession Trump has about ratings — evidenced in a Sunday tweet where he gave this as a reason not to protest the national anthem on TV.
Others made fun of Trump’s obsession with the NFL protest — to the degree of whether players knelt or linked arms — while Puerto Ricans suffer after Maria’s destruction.
There was no end of comparisons between his responses to the two events.
In a direct blow, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) called out the president and his choice to act as a dividing force when the people of Puerto Rico were suffering.
Others echoed Beyer’s sentiment. Hillary Clinton also directly called on Trump, as well as others in the administration, to take action to help Puerto Ricans.
Whether Trump and his administration will respond to pressure to prioritize Puerto Rico and let the NFL drama go is anyone’s guess.
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