01 June, 2020
8 Min Read
Land of the unfree: On U.S. unrest
If ever there were a doubt that racism in the U.S. had outlived eight years under former President Barack Obama, the events of this week, including protests following the death of an African-American, George Floyd, in police action in Minneapolis, Minnesota, have set them to rest.
# Even as rallies and police crackdowns engulfed a wide swathe of American metros, President Donald Trump inserted himself into the controversy and triggered a broader debate on censorship of posts by social media platforms.
# On Friday, Twitter masked and attached a caution note to a tweet by Mr. Trump for “glorifying violence”.
# In that tweet he had labelled protesters calling for action against police for Floyd’s death “THUGS”, adding “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”, a reference to a threat by a police chief, who in 1967 declared “war” and vowed violent revenge on African-Americans in Miami Beach.
# This is hardly the first time that the U.S. President has fanned the flames of hatred. He has said, among other things, that Mexicans were rapists and drug dealers, and in early 2017 he banned visitors from certain Muslim-majority countries.
# It is almost inevitable that racial tensions will bubble to the surface in an election year and explode when incendiary remarks are made by leaders.
# The mere tokenism of including persons of colour as a vice-presidential candidate or in a potential Biden cabinet of 2021 will not suffice to heal the painful fractures in American society, riven by hateful rhetoric on race.
# The balm must include far-reaching legislative reform on the use of excessive force by police against minorities, punishment for all hate crimes, workplace discrimination, and inhumane treatment of migrants at the border.
# Unless such an agenda, focused on the complete reform of government institutions toward supporting a pluralist ethos, is adopted by the next occupant of the White House, the American dream will remain a mirage for many.
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