15 August, 2020

Blog

Is Trump Tipping Point For Change In US Racism?

By Amrit Muttukumaru

Amrit Muttukumaru

What is all the hullabaloo about the brutal daylight murder of unarmed African-American George Floyd, at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers on 25 May 2020? Is not police brutality against African-Americans, ranging from assault and battery to murder for the flimsiest of reason, been par for the course for more than a century? Such brutality, prejudice and discrimination against African-Americans can only occur in a culture of impunity. 

The sheer scale of the unprecedented nationwide protests (interspersed with violence) in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, has probably surprised even African-Americans themselves! It has culminated seemingly in an unstoppable demand for systemic change in US race relations and given a major boost to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, which had limited traction after its founding in 2013.

This phenomenon could be better understood, if one has an appreciation of what possibly triggered this change. It eluded spirited attempts by the legendary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 for which King labored and even an African-American – Barack Obama in the Oval Office. Is it not ironical that such passions have been unleashed during the presidency of Donald Trump, who is perceived to be not popular with African-Americans?  Does not the question arise, whether this unprecedented demand would have occurred if Trump was not the US President? Is this not an intriguing proposition? Has his unconventional brand of aggressive politics, given expression to pent-up feelings particularly among African-Americans, after the brutal slaying of George Floyd? 

Why didn’t the murder of unarmed African- American Eric Garner in 2014, at the hands of New York City police officers under circumstance reminiscent of George Floyd’s “I can’t breathe” plea, not culminate in a demand for systemic change in racism? This was at a time when  African-American – Barack Obama was US President. George Floyd is well on the way to attaining cult status possibly even surpassing that of Martin Luther King Jr. Does this not say something of the dramatic change that has now occurred and of changing values?  

In stark comparison with the tardiness with which instances of violence were dealt with previously, the Minneapolis Police Department has promptly dismissed the four police officers responsible for the murder of George Floyd. We also witness the breakneck speed with which police officer Derek Chauvin directly responsible for the murder, was charged with third-degree murder which was soon enhanced to second-degree. The other three dismissed police officers who were previously not charged, have now been charged with aiding and abetting a second-degree murder. 

In the more recent encounter of an African-American with the Atlanta police, which led to the death of Rayshard Brooks under circumstances different to the brutality experienced by George Floyd, there was the immediate termination of police officer Garrett Rolfe who fatally shot Brooks. He has now been slapped with a controversial murder charge. There was also the immediate resignation of Atlanta police chief Erika Shields. Such occurrences were unheard of prior to the George Floyd saga. 

While there is a strong case for drastic police reform, should this not be undertaken without undermining morale in the legitimate pursuit of law enforcement? The call to ‘defund the police’ if taken to extremes can be self-defeating. 

In the midst of the nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, which for the most part is peaceful, there are alarming instances of violence consisting of vandalism, looting and arson. If not nipped in the bud, it has the potential to derail this watershed moment. Those responsible must be reined in and made accountable.  Sections of the mainstream US media, presumably with their own political agenda, have either downplayed or exaggerated the violence.

Although a reassessment of US history is necessary as a cleansing process, this must not lead to vandalizing statues and monuments associated with white supremacy. Such statues are an integral part of US history and should be placed in museums as a reminder of “Man’s inhumanity to man” as penned by Robert Burns.

Presidents Trump & Obama

Whatever President Obama’s shortcomings (the disastrous Libyan foray and retaining the Nobel Peace Prize are examples), he was a unifier of communities.  Despite being a people-friendly person and an African-American, he was not able to trigger a demand for change in race relations anywhere near to what we witness today.

On the other hand, an unprecedented nationwide demand for change in race relations has occurred during the presidency of Donald Trump. This is despite not endearing himself to African-Americans and his aggressive persona.

Is it far-fetched to postulate that these very attributes in conjunction with:

1) The scale of the unprecedented nationwide protests

2) The ‘softening’ of the attitude of ‘hard- liners’ in the ‘white’ population due to the perceived uncertain future thrown up by the coronavirus

have created the environment  for such a demand?

Could it not be said that if Donald Trump was not US President, it is unlikely that the protests would be on this mass scale? Such are the emotions he brings out from African-Americans in particular.

Conclusion

The realization of the “Dream” of Martin Luther King Jr. will be a long and arduous process, as there are shades of ‘Derek Chauvin’ in the psyche of millions of ‘white’ Americans. No legislation or catchy slogans such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ can cure this.

The George Floyd murder seen worldwide on electronic media, has found global resonance due to grave human rights abuse and racism in their own countries. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 2
    0

    I can’t breathe” plea, not culminate in a demand for systemic change in racism “Laundry is the only thing that should be separated by color, To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice s a strong case for drastic police reform is required

  • 0
    0

    “Could it not be said that if Donald Trump was not US President, it is unlikely that the protests would be on this mass scale? Such are the emotions he brings out from African-Americans in particular.”
    This putting the cart before the horse.
    The protests are a culmination of a series of events, George Floyd’s murder was the proverbial straw that broke the Camel’s back I will say.
    Trump’s role in whipping up racism cannot be separated from the course of events.
    *
    “The George Floyd murder seen worldwide on electronic media, has found global resonance due to grave human rights abuse and racism in their own countries.”
    *
    Not very strongly here I would say.
    The FLSP attempted a demonstration opposite the US Embassy and the police stopped it, even without the Embassy asking.
    Tamil and Muslim political parties?

  • 0
    1

    The unprecedented scale of the Floyd protests is largely due to the video of his killing showing its graphic, gruesome nature and the clear-cut nature of police brutality going viral, coupled with large numbers of people unemployed and homebound due to the lockdowns being “forced” to pay attention to the saturation coverage of the events relating to Floyd’s death on TV. Goaded by the mainstream media and the social media, people long on emotion and short on facts came out into the streets. That’s the long and the short of it.

    • 0
      0

      Arte not people goaded on by emotional phrases like the ‘American way of life’, ‘defending America against forces of evil’, ‘Axis of Evil’ etc?
      How else can a generally reasonable people like members of the American middle class passively accept America’s wars against humanity?

      • 0
        0

        “Arte “? Why the Tamil arte coming here too?
        ” George Floyd’s murder was the proverbial straw that broke the Camel’s back I will say.”

        ” How else can a generally reasonable people like members of the American middle class Aren’t they the camels back broken by the straw?
        “Not very strongly here I would say. “ Is that why, because rediculas comment writers convulse to redicule others comments ?

  • 0
    0

    SJ

    Would what I meant in the penultimate sentence in my last comment be clearer if expanded it to read, “Goaded on by the mainstream media and the social media, people long on emotion and short on facts came out into the streets to protest under the banner of ‘Black Lives Matter'”? My problem with the protests (I am referring only to the “peaceful” ones) is that it was not just about police brutality but about police brutality (as manifested in unarmed suspects being killed by the U.S. police) targeting blacks. If you have read my article properly, you should know my views on this.

    There is some suggestion that George Floyd refused to get into the police car by claiming that he was claustrophobic. If true, this would be passive (as opposed to violent) resistance of arrest, but it would still not justify the level of violence used by the police against the suspect to ostensibly restrain him (Derek Chauvin putting his knee on GF’s neck [“neck restraint”] for so many minutes while the other officers pinned him down).

  • 0
    0

    60% of white American and 40% of black Americans were crowd participated in the protests. This is what Normally Democratic Party gets in polls. Then, is that means this is political protest against Pres. Trump? Black Americans & Spanish American didn’t vote to the proportion in the last election. Trump became the president. That was a disappointment for white democrats. So, better path of analysis here is not to end it as the protest was there because Trump is on seat. I don’t want NYC Erick case here because he was suspected of a serious crime, unlike a suspicion of petty theft on George. Rodney King’s beating created even larger protest and widespread property damages. Rodney misbehaved by his excessive drinking. The honest issue here is, in the West, Civilization grows. That is why slaved blacks were given freedom, instead of murdering in 150,000-200,000. Further in reality, it was 1 in 10 white Americans died in the civil war. Ranil went to Oxford to teach about Neo Colonialism, only to reply when PM David Cameron wanted Old King to be magnanimous during the CHOCGM meeting. Because the Imperialism, neo Imperialism, Colonialism, Neo colonialism….. like bogus theories are taught and Sinhala Buddhist are kept in dark, from 1931 Lankans are abusing the Universal Franchise, instead of growing with that.

  • 0
    0

    In Lankawe Ranil saved the mass criminals and helped to get in power, but Cameron resigned from PM seat for he could not agree with Brexit result. In that three prime ministers resigned though Britain kept voting only for Brexit in all those election. In Lankawe the SC refused to hear the case in which 70 years of democratic precedent is overturned by a wrong wording, by legal draftsmen’s mistake. When one says that the reason for international protest is, in those countries too there is racism, too, that conclusion suggests the oppressed people were the one protested in those countries. True there are wide spread racism, all over the world. In Lankawe, it was pure Anti- American protest. But the real anti-American Slap party stopped the protest and turned back is record. Modaya Demulu Gunaratnam is Lankawe because of America’s partner Australia. It is Australia got him out of King’s White Van. That is why Kamal Gunaratna said SFP was there to teach a lesson to America. One should think, in America it was “Black Life Matters” Activists were protesting and rioting. But in Lankawe, from 1956, protesting and rioting are by “Rapist and Looters whims matter” . Even in Last year’s 4/21 riots in NWP it was with same motive.

  • 0
    0

    When President Clinton came to power, many towns in America were feasted with crimes. He funded to police and controlled. In America the impunity works both ways; i.e., police and criminals getaway with their ways. If the police arrests correct person, courts let him/her go. In O.J. Simpson case, because of a detective’s faults, the criminal case was disposed. But he was convicted & punished in civil case. This is the obscurity in legal process. But in many murder cases police just took the innocent by standers and the court punished with death. After invention of DNA tracing, many of these condemned to death were saved and released. What is happening is, police is growing disheartening and becomes lazy. American impunity, which mainly comes out of lower level courts, is hurting and benefiting both police and criminals, unlike Lankawe one, where political figure heads only entitled for that. It comes from the top most citizen of the country. Rather than saying police is encouraged by impunity, they are advancing to take authority in their hands & going above courts, seeing courts not punishing the real criminals they presents. This mistake, in turn, is taken for their advantage by criminals to their benefits. So courts fails to punish criminals.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.