When Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis suggested that “this girl Ocasio-Cortez” is a symptom of Democratic disarray, the self-styled “girl from the Bronx” (who actually grew up in Westchester County) retorted with a tweet wherein she claimed: “I am a Puerto Rican woman.” Leaving aside the possibility that she suffers from multiple personality disorder, Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t seem to know any more about the history of her newfound homeland than she does about the Middle East. She delivered herself of several tweets on Wednesday that suggest she believes Puerto Rico was an independent and sovereign nation before the U.S. arrived in 1898.
120 years ago today (July 25th, 1898) Puerto Rico was invaded and made a colony of the United States.… Puerto Ricans are US citizens. But they STILL don’t have the right to vote federally, nor do they have voting rep in Congress (unless they move). Nor are they a sovereign people.
If this kind of rhetoric sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because it was the party line of the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN), a radical Marxist terrorist group whose 120-plus bombings murdered and maimed dozens of innocent New Yorkers, including four dead and 63 wounded in the notorious bombing of Manhattan’s Fraunces Tavern. By parroting the FALN party line, Ocasio-Cortez confirms that Rep. DeSantis was accurate in his assertion that she lives “in a totally different universe” than the rest of us. She evidently believes that the fictitious U.S. “subjugation” of Puerto Rico is morally equivalent to the mythical Israeli “occupation” of Palestine.
Meanwhile, back in our universe, Puerto Rico’s actual history fails to conform to the mythology imbibed by our “Puerto Rican woman.” The island was a Spanish colony beginning in 1493 and remained under Spanish control until April of 1899 when Spain ceded it to the U.S. after the Spanish-American War. In 1917, all Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship. It is, at present, a U.S. territory subject to the powers of Congress under Article IV of the Constitution. In a referendum held last year, the voters of Puerto Rico supported U.S. statehood in a landslide. Nonetheless, Ocasio-Cortez insists on viewing Puerto Rican history through a Marxist lens darkly:
The subjugation and treatment of Puerto Ricans as 2nd-class citizens of the United States is nothing new.… It’s codified into law.… It’s codified in status.… And recognition of this gross injustice is bipartisan: @SenJohnMcCain has introduced legislation to lift the Jones Act.
Ocasio-Cortez should file a malpractice suit against Boston University, where she was “educated.” She clearly has no idea that there are two laws commonly called “the Jones Act,” both of which affect Puerto Rico. The first was passed in 1917, and granted U.S. citizenship to all Puerto Ricans. The statute that McCain wants repealed is a law formally titled, “The Merchant Marine act of 1920.” Its opponents say it harms the Puerto Rican economy. President Trump temporarily waived it to facilitate relief efforts after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, but he gets no credit from Ocasio-Cortez. She is, in fact, what some would characterize as a Hurricane Maria truther:
It is estimated that almost 5,000 Puerto Ricans have died in the wake of Hurricane María.… The Federal government maintains that the official death count from the storm was 64.… The island has yet to undergo a major recovery effort. Homes are still covered in tarps.
Not a syllable of this is true. Some of the Trump administration’s worst enemies have debunked the death toll she quotes. The Washington Post ran a story on it titled, “Did 4,645 people die in Hurricane Maria? Nope.” It’s a deliberate distortion of a Harvard study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. At least 100 “news” outlets studiously ignored its clearly-stated limitations and ran with the sensational 4,645 figure. Yet, as Nate Silver wrote: “That number is not a count of the death toll in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria.” And what about the claims made by Ocasio-Cortez about the recovery effort? More BS. Six months after the disaster, FEMA reported:
• At its peak, more than 19,000 federal personnel and military service members from 80 federal agencies deployed to the island.… More than 640 employees from other federal agencies temporarily left their jobs in the U.S. to support the Puerto Rico response.…
• More than 63 million meals and snacks were provided to Puerto Rico. The number represents nearly half of the 138 million total meals provided during the historic 2017 hurricane season.
• More than 72 million liters of bottled water and nearly 17 million gallons of potable water were distributed.
• More than 4,500 flights flown to date, making it the longest and largest sustained domestic air mission of food and water in U.S. history.… In one of the largest medical response missions ever, more than 4,700 medical personnel deployed and cared for more than 38,000 survivors.
• USACE has installed more than 1,843 generators, making it the largest disaster generator mission in U.S. history. More than 4,200 power line workers are in the field, repairing transmission and distribution lines to restore power to the island. Less than 10 percent of the island remains without power.
• All 68 hospitals are open. FEMA is working closely with the Puerto Rico Department of Health and HHS to provide temporary facilities while any remaining damaged health clinics are repaired and rebuilt.
No doubt these things pale in comparison to what Ocasio-Cortez accomplished while working as a community organizer or when she was mixing martinis for a living, but it looks pretty impressive to those of us who have participated in an actual disaster recovery operation. But we mortals are not able to simultaneously view the world through the eyes of a girl from the Bronx who grew up in Westchester and is now a Puerto Rican woman. Nor have we been inculcated with the Marxist ideology that allows us to parrot FALN propaganda without thinking of the dead and maimed. How can we know what someone who lives in a totally different universe knows?
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