79.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 24, 2024


Dear Source,
I have read the reply by Frank Schneiger, "Of bailouts, bootstraps, blame and Band-Aids", to my suggestion that the federal government include American citizens residing its territories and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico as "victims" of the Sept. 11 attacks on America. Quite frankly, his reply exhibited an attitude that perpetuates the problem. His argument clearly exposes the attitude of mainlanders toward American citizens residing in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Mainlanders look upon: that they are dependent, second-class citizens.
Mr. Schneiger states that Virgin Islanders are unique in their sense of entitlement and victimization. He suggests that there are classes of "victims" of the September attack — "victims" who experienced and are experiencing the impact of the attack first hand and those who cannot comprehend the impact of the attack because they have not experienced the horror first hand. The former are entitled to relief; the latter should not cry.
Second-hand accounts are never as accurate as first-hand accounts. I invite him to come to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to observe personally the massive layoffs as a result of the nosedive in the tourism industry after the events of Sept. 11. He has not seen nor experienced the effects that the decline in tourism has had on the American citizens residing here. Virgin Islanders and Puerto Ricans are citizens, "victims," who experienced and are experiencing the impact of the attack first hand. Albeit these effects are economic, they are effects, nonetheless.
The federal government has undertaken the task of making whole "all victims" of the attack. Help has come and will come by way of subsidies, grants and other forms of economic relief. "All victims," from the airlines to the hot dog vendors who plied their wares in the area of the World Trade Center, and including the employees of those businesses that suffered a decline in revenue as a result of the obvious economic impact of the attack and its repercussions, will receive cash.
It is contemplated that "all victims" entitled to economic relief will include employees of businesses that were displaced who lost their jobs and the families of those whose lost a breadwinner. "All victims" — the corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships and the employees thereof, have experienced and continue to experience the economic ripples emanating from "ground zero."
The suggestion that American citizens in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are not victims of the attack, swamped by the same ripples, and that these citizens considering themselves victims entitled to a handout once again reflects their "peculiar" welfare mentality is arrogant. It underlines the attitude of mainlanders that Virgin Islanders and Puerto Ricans are not American citizens entitled to a slice of the public dole. It is consistent with the attitude that the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are colonies and dependents of the United States mainlanders.
Come on, this is the 21st century, the new millennium. All Americans affected by the attacks are entitled to relief. Americans are entitled to the same relief as every other American, no matter where they might reside.
To suggest otherwise is to suggest that Virgin Islanders, Puerto Ricans, and for that matter Samoans, are not American citizens entitled to the full faith and credit and equal protection of the citizens residing on the mainland United States. This attitude denigrates the citizenship of all Americans living abroad and exposes mainlanders to the accusation of being provincial in their definition of who is an American.
Lofton P. Holder
St. Thomas

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