When future generations comb over the rubble of the American experiment to try to understand this era, they will hold May 29 up as the perfect example of our insanity. Tuesday’s news cycle has been wholly consumed by Roseanne’s latest racist tweet—only this time it resulted in the cancellation of her show. Americans squabbling over the cultural signifiers of a TV show while largely ignoring new reporting putting the death toll from the hurricane in Puerto Rico at well over the number of people we lost on 9/11 is what societal collapse looks like.
A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates that at least 5,740 people have died because of Hurricane Maria. That’s nearly 9,000% great than the official death toll of 64 put out by the Puerto Rican government (last updated on December 4th, 2017). We lost 2,996 people on 9/11 and we spent the next two decades fighting every boogeyman across the Middle East to rectify that wrong. Now we can’t even agree that climate change is real, and despite it murdering nearly two 9/11s worth of American citizens, it barely makes a blip in our news cycle…drowned out instead by Roseanne freaking Barr.
What else is there to say? This is America. History proves that most empires last somewhere around 250 years, and the end of Trump’s second term would mark 248 for the United States of America. A cursory review of the fates which befell London, Rome, and Peking proves that we are on the same path, and our apathy is growing in the face of calamity. History tells us how this all ends, the only question remaining is whether we decide to learn from it or not.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.