After the epic destruction in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria, US President Donald Trump had stayed largely silent on the matter — tweeting only about the country’s “broken infrastructure and massive debt.”

Instead of rallying the country behind the 3.4 million American citizens who live in Puerto Rico, Trump has instead sent more than a dozen tweets about the NFL and the alleged lack of patriotism demonstrated by players who kneel or sit during the National Anthem.

Why? According to CNN, which the President describes as “fake news”, Trump has a finely-tuned ear for what will resonate with his political base. And casting himself as the voice of the people against rich, entitled and primarily black athletes — yes, of course, race is tied up in this — is a strong place to be for some not-small element of his base.

Whether he wants to admit it to himself or not, Trump is purposely playing on lingering racial resentment and animus in the country to remind people of what divides them. And he is doing so because he knows it will work.