As many of you know, Puerto Rico continues to suffer in the wake of a debilitating hurricane last year, with almost half of the island still lacking electricity. Island residents are justifiably angry at the lackluster federal response to their plight.
So why have repair efforts taken so long? Maybe it's because they're basically a colonized territory lacking full voting rights and so equal status as Americans. Maybe it's good old-fashioned racism (maybe explanations #1 and #2 are not mutually exclusive).
Or maybe, as an op-ed published in Puerto Rico's largest paper posited, it's the revenge of "the Jew":
Monday’s column by Wilda Rodriguez in the newspaper El Nuevo Día, titled “What Does ‘The Jew’ Want From The Colony?”, claimed that “Wall Street types” dictate U.S. policy, and that “Congress will do what ‘the Jew’ wants, as the vulgar prototype of true power is called.”
“No offense to people of that religion,” she added.
She went on to claim that Wall Street and “the Jew” are punishing Puerto Rico in order to get the island to pay its $70 billion debts.I'm glad she added the "no offense" caveat. Who knows how it might have been interpreted otherwise?
Anyway, before I got to this Rodriguez issued an ... well, let's decide whether we'll call it an apology:
“I’m profoundly sorry that some have interpreted one of my pieces as anti-Semitism,” she wrote. “My career as a writer has been clear, and prejudice and racial and religious hostility have never been a part of it. I can understand the strong reaction that some of have had to the mere usage of the word ‘Jew.’ My intention was not to offend, but to provoke a public discussion. With that clear, I ask for forgiveness from those of good faith that were hurt by my political allusion. I have not and never will intend to offend them.”Call me crazy, but I'm not convinced that the "mere usage of the word 'Jew'" was what set people off here. Had she written the sentence "At the age of 13, a Jew undergoes a Bar or Bat Mitzvah and becomes a full adult member of his or her community," I dare say everybody would be cool. I'd say the objection is 25% to the invocation of "the Jew" as a general archetype, and 75% to the content of that archetype being unbridled financial greed and power.
But hey -- public discussion provoked!