Hurricane aftermath worsened by political selfishness
The damage caused by a series of Hurricanes from Harvey to Maria to Mediterranean countries, several U.S. States, and two American territories, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Island, is bad enough without some do-nothing political opportunist like Congressman Luis Gutierrez trying to exploit it for his personal political benefit
By Ray Hanania
Four hurricanes including two reaching Category 5 levels slammed the Caribbean and the Southern American coastline this season setting records, taking hundreds of lives, and causing billions of dollars in damage.
Hurricane Harvey turned Houston into a torrential river of destruction, killing at least 75 people. Hurricane Irma followed slamming the Caribbean and Florida, causing more deaths and billions in damage. Two more Hurricanes including Maria caused 65 deaths in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Puerto Rico.
Having survived devastating floods in Chicago’s suburbs in 1996, I know what it’s like to see personal possessions washed away and property severely damaged.
Yet, I can never get used to the politicians who exploit these tragedies for their own selfish political agendas.
Among the biggest exploiters of the recent tragedy is Congressman Luis Gutierrez, a loud-mouth screamer who always exploits the unexploitable.
I covered Gutierrez when he was a do-nothing Chicago alderman. After leaving City Hall, I helped him launch his first campaign for Congress in 1992. I quickly left after realizing he was little more than a deplorable opportunist.
I’ve worked with more than 65 politicians and candidates over the years, including a couple who ended up, rightly, going to jail. I find Gutierrez to be the most disturbing of them all, because he always used race as a crowbar to tear issues apart.
This past week, I watched as Gutierrez turned Hurricane tragedy into a story about himself, crying in a series of TV Interviews and in front of news cameras as he prepared to fly to Puerto Rico.
Suddenly, Mother Nature wasn’t to blame. It was his arch rival, President Trump. The racist national American news media that always fans Gutierrez’s political embers are complicit. They always exaggerate criticism of Trump, to reflect their own political agendas, while ignoring facts that provide balance.
Hurricanes are caused by low pressure areas that form over warm ocean waters and they can be deadly. Water from the ocean vaporizes quickly creating an energy that fuels the intensity of the Hurricane, Mother Nature’s Science Project Gone Wrong.
They provided huge coverage to one of Gutierrez’s political allies, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who asserted “Trump” wasn’t doing enough. But the media never reported until days later what the Federal government is doing, or on criticism of Cruz from another Puerto Rican city mayor, Angel Perez. Perez blasted Cruz saying the United States was doing much in the wake of the hurricane damage.
White House Budget Chief Mick Mulvaney argued the news media was ignoring the Federal efforts to provide aid and only showcasing political attacks.
FEMA is all over Puerto Rico, which is 2,200 miles across ocean waters from the American coastline. My Orland Park home is only 706 miles from FEMA headquarters in Washington DC. While the damage was far less than anything suffered in the four hurricanes, it took FEMA under President Bill Clinton six months to provide any substantive support –loans I repaid to replace damaged property.
The worst thing is to watch victims of tragedy blame government or the police. When a teenager is killed on a Chicago street at 2 am in the morning, the first thing the parents do is blame the police.
They don’t blame themselves for being pathetic parents who don’t seem to care for their children when the children need the care. They end up in front of microphones with lawyers who blame government and turn their suffering into multi-million jackpots.
I’m sick of it. And I’m sick of politicians who exploit tragedy by blaming the suffering and damage on their political rivals.
You want to help the people in need? Help. Tragedy needs humanitarian compassion, not a political opportunity just to get news media air time.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and former Chicago City Hall reporter. Email him at email@example.com. Originally published in The Regional News and the Southwest News Newspaper Group.)
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Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America.
"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
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His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.
Email Ray Hanania at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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