A majority of white Americans still cannot come to terms with what black people have known forever: Racism is systemic, systematic, and nowhere near gone. White America must step up not just for peace, but for justice— Systemic racism is the real ‘American carnage’—Jenipher Camino Gonzalez
July 4 marks the National Day of Unites States of America
Dr. Ikramul Haq
July 4, 1776 has special significance in American history. The great liberation movement against the colonial rule was pioneered in this land and founding-fathers of this historic struggle showed the subjugated nations a novel path of hope. They started a new beginning of self-rule. It took many hundred years for American society to struggle on all fronts and make its mark as one of the leading nations of the world. For many countries, the United States of America (USA) became a role model in political evolution achieving great cohesion and solidarity amongst federating units within the constitutional framework. Great movements for human rights and against bigotry, intolerance, discrimination, exploitation, inequality and racism made the place a noteworthy example for others to follow. The democratic set-up, quite different from conventional British system backed by monarchy, stemming from indigenous roots established and developed its own principles is a unique and noteworthy achievement.
What happened on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis in the aftermath of death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man, while in police custody, once again reminded the Americans that struggle for a just society free of racial biases and hate, maltreating the black and other non-white races, is a continuous process. It never ended, and will not go away as long as there are hate mongers, war maniacs, bigots, people with vested interest and those who use race, caste and creed and all other aberrated forms of superiority for their political gains. In this context, the Time magazine wrote in 2018 that Trump “rode race, the third rail of American politics, straight to the White House. He challenged Obama’s citizenship, called Mexicans rapists and criminals, proposed to ban all Muslims from entering the country, insisted on the need for “law and order,” argued that immigration was changing the “character” of the United States and openly courted white supremacists”. It proved beyond doubt since his taking of oath on January 20, 2017 that how callously and criminally he handled matters pertaining to blacks and other minorities and showed his true ugly face during the recent demonstration in various parts of USA after George Floyd’s death.
David Smith of The Guardian aptly summed up: The uprising over Floyd’s killing, and over four centuries of slavery, segregation and injustice, demanded a space and time to heal, not a time to fight. But Trump’s entire political identity is constructed around conflict. At the height of the demonstrations, he staged a bizarre photo op outside a church after law enforcement used tear gas to clear peaceful protesters outside the White House. In an unprecedented announcement….General Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, apologised for taking part”.
Nell Irvin Painter, author of Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas After Reconstruction and The History of White People in an article, Trump revives the idea of a ‘white man’s country’, America’s original sin, published in The Guardian on July 20, 2019 noted that, “Just as Trump has carried his just-happen-to-be-white into proud-to-be-white followers and into white nationalism, anti-Trump Americans must carry the nation in a saner direction. And just as Trump’s racism calls up old themes in America’s history, anti-racists must now act on a history of their own, one sufficiently powerful to defeat Trumpism, as it defeated slavery, segregation and disfranchisement.
Today’s USA of Trump is different from what its founder fathers conceived as was that of George W. Bush Jr. He made USA a hegemonic state committed to waging wars for oil, drugs and weapons. Now Trump, in addition to all those, further defaced it by converting it into ‘Land of Conflicts”.
The day Bush was installed as president of USA in 2000 by a 5-4 vote of the US Supreme Court, Zalmay Khalilzad headed the Bush-Cheney transition team for the Defence Department and advised incoming Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, USA became a different state—captive in the hands of hawkish war mongers—such was never dreamt of by its founder fathers, nor the people. At that point, only a few commentaries in the American media unveiled the military campaign of Bush-Cheney, including the San Francisco Chronicle on September 26, 2001 as its staff writer Frank Viviano, observed: “The hidden stakes in the war against terrorism can be summed up in a single word: oil. The map of terrorist sanctuaries and targets in the Middle East and Central Asia is also, to an extraordinary degree, a map of the world’s principal energy sources in the 21st century…It is inevitable that the war against terrorism will be seen by many as a war on behalf of America’s Chevron, Exxon, and Arco; France’s TotalFinaElf; British Petroleum; Royal Dutch Shell and other multinational giants, which have hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in the region.”
Later events testify his point. The invasion of Iraq by US and its allies using the myth of weapons of mass destruction [which was just a hoax] and appointment of Khalilzad as US Ambassador proved beyond any doubt that the reality of ‘war against terrorism’ was nothing but quest for OIL. Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele [TIME, May 19, 2003] remarkably exposed the dark side of American oil policy from classified government documents and oil industry memos, involving a pair of Iraq’s neighbours, Iran and Afghanistan.
The USA first changed from enviable democracy to a fanatic state under Bush-Cheney and then to ‘Land of Hatred and Racism’ by Trump. On both occasions, the state made subservient to billionaires, running all kinds of businesses, especially oil, arms and drugs, who know how to move money from one part of the world to another, buy government functionaries, control politicians, law enforcement officials and get the profits they want—all at the expense of innumerable poor and helpless people around the world.
But movement started for justice after the brutal killing of George Floyd at the hands of police has rekindled the hope that the masses of USA will regain justice for all—the substance of democracy. The recent protests in USA and their worldwide support have shown that a true rule of people means their participation in attaining justice and equality—the main pillars of democracy. The enlightened Americans undoubtedly deserve salutation. The country has produced in the modern era scholars like Edward W. Said and Noam Chomsky, who showed the world how one can struggle and expose those who exploit others for their petty interests. The great historic tradition of resistance against injustice by majority of Americans, a vibrant nation, and their current movement against racism at its heart is to end economic exploitation, war hysteria and achieve equality for all human beings beyond class and race. It will lead to a new America becoming again inspiration for all those, who are fighting against all forms of oppression and exploitation in any part of the world.
The writer, Advocate Supreme Court, is Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)