Roger L. Simon

Puerto Rico Enters the 'Great American Victim Derby'

Seems like everyone’s a victim in the USA these days, from college “snowflakes” who can’t abide someone with views unlike theirs within miles of their campuses to allegedly assaulted women wearing sexually explicit hats to multi-millionaire football players who are sure there’s something wrong but can’t always remember what it is (other than Donald Trump).  The latest of the many entries in this “Great American Victim Derby” is Puerto Rico — or at least a significant part of the island’s leadership.

Who will win this derby?

It’s anybody’s guess, but the thing about playing the victim game is that even — perhaps especially — when you do win, you’re even more likely to continue to be a victim and play some more.  Victimhood is self-perpetuating — a spiritual, emotional, political, and economic rerun out of the movie “Groundhog Day.” Every year it’s the same thing and nothing changes.  Something bad happens and there you go again, drinking from the trough until you pass out like a fraternity boy being hazed for the thousandth time.

Why not try something different for a change — like taking responsibility?

Are you listening, Puerto Rico?

It’s an old story.  The island has always hovered on the brink of collapse. Self-sufficiency was an illusion.  I remember growing up in New York City in the fifties and the non-stop immigration of Puerto Ricans (I lived on the edge of Spanish Harlem).  No one seemed to be going the other way — to Puerto Rico — despite its balmy Caribbean climate and gorgeous beaches. Maybe that was part of the problem.  If you visit a tropical island, the last thing on your mind is work. You want to kick back and enjoy neverneverland as long as you can.   To some extent, it’s the same for locals.  Dolce far niente is a great lifestyle, if you can hack it — seemingly stress free.  I’m envious. But everything has a price. You look around and things are dissolving . No infrastructure.  No nada. Calamity strikes. And there you are asking for a handout again.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t help Puerto Rico.  We must and should.  The situation is dreadful.  But this is a learning opportunity for the islanders.  They should take it. Blaming Donald Trump is the most reactionary and self-destructive thing they can do.  It’s victimhood redux. Leave that to the rapacious ideologues at CNN, the New York Times, etc. They’d blame the eruption of the Indonesian volcanoes on Trump, if that were possible — and even it it weren’t.

Despite what global warming fanatics might say, hurricanes are nothing new in Puerto Rico.  There were obviously plenty of them from time immemorial, long before the island was even inhabited. If you’re living on the island you know that from childhood. Every year brings a hurricane season. For the last decade it was pretty inconsequential, then it went crazy.  It’s God’s lottery.

So you have choices: you can leave the island, you can stay and do nothing, or you can stay and do something — that is, build a hurricane-mitigating infrastructure the way California has, at least to some extent, hardened itself against the inevitable earthquakes.

A fourth way exists, and unfortunately it seems prevalent in Puerto Rico if we listen to the self-serving blather of San Juan’s mayor or trust the veracity — on the same subject — of this recorded phone call from a  female Puerto Rican police officer.  (Sadly, I do.)  That is the way of evil, politically exploitative leadership:

Radio Announcer: What is your name?

Police Caller: I cannot give my name because I work for Puerto Rico’s Police Department. I need to pass this information out because the stuff that is being brought from the U.S. is not being distributed.  They are not allowing the Puerto Rican people to receive the donations.

Radio Announcer: What part of Puerto Rico are you calling us from right now?

Police Caller: I am right now in Guaynabo.

Radio Announcer 2: Wow.

Radio Announcer 3: But what information do you have? What have you seen?

Police Caller: The Mayor, Carmen Yulin, is not allowing anyone to distribute… We need… what Puerto Ricans need is that the U.S. armed forces come in and distribute the aid. And that they stop the governor, Rosello, and the mayor, Yulin, on doing what they are doing… It’s an abuse, it looks like communism, in our own island (sobbing)… (sobbing continues, inaudible translation due to cries)…

Communism.  Interesting she says that because it has been my observation that in places (countries) where people are reluctant to act for themselves, communism, or some form of totalitarianism, moves in.  It’s almost biological, or chemical — the abhorring of a vacuum. It’s also yet more proof of Edmund Burke’s oft-quoted dictum: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

So this is a teaching moment for Puerto Rico.  Will they take it?

One more time….

Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media.  His latest book is I Know Best:  How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If  It Hasn’t Already. Follow him on Twitter @rogerlsimon.


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