By Joe Montero
The United States of America is reeling as protests continue in tens of cities around the country. They don’t look like ending soon, and could possibly escalate into an even bigger movement.
Donald trump’s hard line response to date, is only throwing fuel into the discontent. The more he scapegoats, blurts out conspiracy theories, and promises to shoot people in the streets, the deeper gets the crisis faced by the nation and his presidency
Why should Australians be interested in the in what is going on there on the other side of the world? Because as Australia’s political elite, has been hitching onto Uncle Sam using the United States as the role model. Many of the problems there are therefore coming to roost here. So, there is good reason to take note of what is happening.
We already have black deaths in custody, the detention camps for refugees model, disproportionate policing of minority and less well healed neighbourhoods, and the growing militarisation of the police force.
Australian society does not really want to go down this road. We have our own economic and social crisis and need to find a proper way out of them.
Over the six days of unrest in the United States so far, compliant media has sought to turn focus on ‘protester violence,” the burning of police cars and building, and the looting of shops. In doing this, they are, whether intentionally or unintentionally, working to bury why this is happening in the first place.
Dr Martin Luther King put it well, by saying this is what happens when people feel they have no voice, feel powerless and see those with power failuring to respond over a long time. In these conditions, people believe they have no other choice. To bury this reality, is to keep on silencing the unheard.
And this is exactly what Donald Trump has done and is being aided and abbeted by a good part of the media. Not that Joe Biden has proved to be a great deal better. He has failed to provide leadership to those calling for a fair go. He has not called out systematic use of state violence for political purpose.
Contrast this to the brave action taken by some police officers, who have chosen to show their support for those on the streets.
Portland Police Kneel in Solidarity with George Floyd Protesters
Video from Now This News
After joining the protesters kneeling down with them in Portland they chose to leave. The result? There was no rioting or looting.
Here is another example.
Police officer kneels to hug protester at California rally
Video from Ruptly
Unfortunately, in many other cities the story has been vastly different. Tear gas, rubber bullets, stun grenades and capsicum spray have been deployed, and often on people behaving peacefully. A good example is what happened outside the White House.
Shocking footage of fires outside the White House
This is what happened in Las Vegas
Tear gas and several arrests as Las Vegas protests turn aggressive
Video from Ruptly
Police use tear gas and rubber bullets at George Floyd protest in Austin
Video from Ruptly
These are only three examples of what has been taking place across dozens of cities.
Discontent on this scale, has not been seen since the assassination of Dr King. This alone, suggests a great deal.
A noticeable characteristic is that it does not only involve African Americans. People of all races are taking part.
The killing of George Floyd was the spark. This spark fell on extremely dry tinder. Discontent has been simmering for some time, over the lack of proper jobs, the much wider gulf between the haves and have nots, the impact of and fear surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak, as well as the institutional racism within the police force and and across US society.
That the Democrats, especially after blocking the rise of Bernie Sanders, no longer inspire confidence from Americans who want a very different nation. Trust in elected politicians and institutions has taken a battering.
When media outlets serve as mouthpieces of the establishment, are seen to show far less concern for those who are on the streets, than they do about their own comfort, their standing falls. No wonder they are sometimes seen as part of the problem.
The best situation, of course, would be for problems to be resolved in a peaceful way. But when peaceful means prove to be a dead end, is it any wonder they see that resistance and attack is the only solution?
This is a nation where the routine brutality and murder of blacks and other minorities is an ongoing reality; where the mass shootings of school children are shrugged off by political leaders, where millions work for virtual starvation wages and the number living in the streets have not been so high for a long time; where the president makes it so clear that he doesn’t care whether American live or die, applies the politics of hate and division.
Blaming it all on Donald Trump is wrong and misleading. He may be part of all the problems mentioned, and he may even be aggravating them. The truth is that they were there well before him. Past administrations had failed to put the people ahead of Wall Street.
Some thought Trump would be different. He has proved to be a more extreme version of the same.
The United States may be approaching a crossroad. Which way will it turn? And what does this mean for the world?