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Fleeting moments

June 6, 2020

The race war

Opinion

June 6, 2020

The dastardly act of a cop killing black American George Floyd has triggered angry protests in major cities of the US. The level of protests has been compared with the protests that erupted over the merciless beating of black American Rodney King in 1991. In both cases, the perpetrators were the predominantly white American police and the victims, black Americans.

The situation has lately turned so alarming in many cities that President Trump has threatened to unleash the military power, especially in Minneapolis. Reportedly, he also moved into an underground bunker in the White House where the world’s best protected man is supposed to take refuge during emergency. The bunker is designed to ‘withstand multiple direct hits of 200 to 300 Megaton weapons bursting at the surface or 100 MT weapons penetrating to depths of 70–100 feet.’

After warning protesters of dire consequences, President Trump and his staffers walked out of the White House to visit a church located in the vicinity. During the short walk, Trump held the Bible aloft all the time to remind the protesters of his faith in Christianity. On reaching the church, he promptly posed for photographs with his staff. It reminded of Samuel Johnson who didn’t have good words for anyone who took refuge behind religion or patriotism when needed.

The US is facing a civil-war like situation similar to the one that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr in Memphis in 1968. With militarised riot police in action, the American nation gets a taste of how it feels to face the muzzle end of the barrels. So far, the American people had only heard of the death and destruction their military inflicted in countries located thousands of miles away from them -- Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Let us recall the deaths of innocent Iraqi children due to US sanctions on Iraq. In 1995, researchers with an FAO study in Iraq wrote to The Lancet, the journal of the British Medical Society, asserting that sanctions were responsible for the deaths of 567,000 Iraqi children. The New York Times picked up the story and declared “Iraq Sanctions Kill Children.” Also recall the comment by the then US secretary of state Madeline Albright. When asked about the death of Iraqi children because of US sanctions, she replied, “The price is worth it.”

However, the emerging situation depicts two Americas within the United States: white America and black America. It’s black America that suffers the most when a calamity hits the country, including the Covid-19 pandemic. Discrimination against black Americans is starkly palpable. Seeing black Americans wearing uniforms of generals, admirals and air marshals is indeed a rarity. Similar discrimination prevails in other top government services of the country. And at the lower social status, even the police use heavy-handed tactics to control the poor of the cities, mainly black Americans, while protecting the wealthy in the affluent suburbs.

Why are most of the countries mute about the racial protests raging in the US? Had such events taken place in countries like, let’s say, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, messages would have poured in from large populations of the world. But not in the case of the US. Why not?

That’s because of the US policy of occupying independent countries by force, enslaving their large populations, denying genuine leaderships to emerge and imposing proxy regimes, instead. As a result, governments of many countries may exist under the tutelage of the superpower but their populations show no goodwill to it.

Arundhati Roy aptly describes what keeps many countries subservient to US dictates: 'There isn’t a country on God’s earth that is not caught in the crosshairs of the American cruise missile and the IMF cheque book'.

The writer is a freelance columnist based in Lahore.

Email: [email protected]