Contempt breeds contempt

Written by Peter Smith on .

I opened my voicemail over the weekend to get a call from "Anonymous" who read my story on a fundraiser for Puerto Rico hurricane relief, attended by the outspoken mayor of St. Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz. 

The called let loose with a barrage, that Puerto Rico is a "s---hole" place whose leaders ran it into the ground financially. The implication being, let it rot.

This is in continued answer to the question someone asked: "So what" if the president of the United States calls certain lands "s---hole" countries. One answer right away is that it gives license for others to heap contempt on others as somehow lesser beings, unworthy of help.

Look, it's possible both to hold to account those in Washington and San Juana who mismanaged Puerto Rico's money while also recognizing the tragedy of hundreds of thousands still living without regularly electricity and other basics months after the hurricane. Somehow, according to the caller, everyone has to suffer and is deserving only of contempt. Let's stipulate that 1) the hurricane did this, which was nobody's fault, and 2) the financial crisis wasn't most people's fault, either. Like, children.

When cynical money men wrecked the world economy a decade ago, I don't recall anyone saying, well, it was somebody's fault for mismanaging money, so therefore no one deserves help in this "s---hole" country. No, most of us thought of ourselves as deserving of the government salvaging the economy, even if it meant bailing out the bad actors. But when it's somebody else, it's something else, apparently.


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