US is facing a cumulative socio-political discontent


By DC Pathak

For the first time in his tenure, President Donald Trump’s personal image as the leader of the only superpower of the world and as the head of the world’s oldest democracy is taking a hit — all because of his responses to the ‘killing’ in full public view of George Floyd, an Afro-American suspected of some small time ‘offence’, by a white police officer at Minneapolis.

The first and the only reaction of the American President should have been one of feeling aghast over the incident, sending the lawless policeman and his teammates on the spot packing home and declaring that they did not represent the police force of the nation. This did not happen, either because temperamentally Trump always tended to side with the power of enforcement or allowed his racial instincts to get the better of him. His grudging words of condolence to the family of the Afro-American killed, came late in the day and that too without any fitting rebuke for the policemen concerned.

The protest against the police brutality was instantaneous in Minnesota but soon escalated into a widespread public agitation in which the whites also joined in across several states — the rallying point being the resurrected ‘black lives matter’ movement as well as the mounting opposition to the policies and ways of President Donald Trump. Acts of violence in the initial phase of the protests were promptly used by Trump to denounce the agitators as ‘Thugs’ and ‘Terrorists’ and call for use of full force against them. The agitators demanded ‘defunding’ of the local police which was meant to suggest its complete reorganisation.

The political cost of the mishandling of the George Floyd case will become evident as the Presidential election in the US draws to a close. It is significant that the rival camps of Trump and Joe Biden have started openly accusing each other of attempts to take to fraudulent methods of gaining votes in the impending polls.

Any such act of a police personnel is legally punishable. At Minneapolis, there was a blatant show of white supremacism by policemen in the act of ‘punishing’ the black suspect in public. The racial divide that the incident has uncovered has now brought out the dormant polarization of the Americans even on such fundamental milestones of the American democracy as the abolition of slavery and grant of equality to the blacks as citizens with voting rights.

The George Floyd episode has deepened the racial divide and taken the protests in the direction of condemnation of the advocates of slavery who existed ‘in the historical past’ not only in the US but in the UK as well.

It is to be seen how the black issue will affect the arithmetic of numbers between the Republicans and Democrats in the Presidential election. The anti-Trump forces are likely to keep the pot boiling till the polls. On his part, President Donald Trump believes that it is the post-Covid economic recovery that would put everything else on the back burner and get him a second term in office.

Since the current developments in the US are a direct result of the doings of rogue policemen, it is natural that some writings have appeared on the learning they provide for other democratic countries, particularly India where the police handling of certain kinds of public protests had been commented upon.

India does not have any ‘racial’ problem beyond the unfair practices that did exist in the name of caste — the internal divide here is ‘communal’ in nature which was largely a continuing political legacy of the extraordinary event of the country’s partition that had been done on religious lines.

In India, the government takes responsibility for any failures of the police just as it gets credit for good law and order management. The police, if not meddled with politically, is an instrument for creating an equal and abiding society and a sheet anchor for shaping a secular and democratic governance. It has to be kept under public scrutiny for its own good. The US is apparently falling behind in the matter of ensuring a non-discriminatory and non-sectarian law enforcement in conformity with established democratic norms.

Image courtesy of thesatimes | Welcome to The South Asian Times

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