Social instability, COVID-19, and governmental nonfeasance have made the United States an abyss of human rights abuses
Beijing, China | COMMENT – Xinhua | The fine gloss that Washington has tried to put on its tainted human rights record was once again removed as the Report on Human Rights Violations in the United States in 2020 was released on Wednesday.
Human rights were once regarded as one of the cornerstones propping up the U.S. foreign policy. Flaunting itself as a champion of universal human rights, Washington has habitually pointed fingers, wielded sanctions or even waged wars on other countries while using human rights violations as pretexts and excuses.
But now, the so-called champion of the rights of all humanity is descending into the most flagrant violator of human rights both within and outside its borders, committing what it would have deemed as crimes and even reasons for punishments and sanctions if they had happened in other countries.
Treading on the very same values and norms it has repeatedly preached, Washington is turning the United States, the world’s only superpower, into the world’s super double-dealer of human rights.
POLITICS OVERRIDE PEOPLE’S LIVES
On Nov. 19, 1863, in front of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers died fighting for the lives of black Americans, then-U.S. President Abraham Lincoln defined the U.S. government as one of the people, by the people, for the people. At that time, hardly anyone doubted it.
More than a century and a half later, as Americans were caught in another crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, which is no less deadly than the civil war and slavery, leaders of the former U.S. administration chose to turn a blind eye to the American misery and be obsessed with the game of politics in Washington, sitting idly and watching the death toll surpassing grim milestones one after another before exceeding half a million.
With a population of less than 5 percent of the world’s total, the United States accounted for more than 25 percent of all the confirmed cases and nearly 20 percent of the deaths by the end of February, said the report released on Wednesday.
For both Americans and the rest of the world, the U.S. government “of the people” has turned into a government that plays politics, and politics are overriding people’s lives.
While the world’s most COVID-related infections and deaths could serve as an indicator of how politics are paralyzing the U.S. crisis-responding system, leaving hundreds of millions of lives in peril of the pandemic, the deadly clashes in U.S. Capitol, a symbol of the U.S. political system, have just revealed how politics are killing.
In January, four people, including a woman who was shot by Capitol Police, died amid violence as supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in an attempt to impede the process of certifying Joe Biden’s presidential win.
“Police officers brandishing guns … Tear gas deployed in the Rotunda. Lawmakers in hiding. Extremists standing in the vice president’s spot on the Senate dais and sitting at the desk of the speaker of the House …” The New York Times wrote in an opinion piece right after the deadly clashes. “The scenes in Washington would have once been unimaginable.”
RACISM, DISCRIMINATION SHATTER EQUALITY ILLUSION
“I can’t breathe,” African American George Floyd entreated, begging a white police officer who was kneeling on his neck to give him some air, but the police officer remained unmoved. Nine minutes later, Floyd died at the age of 46 years old.
The tragedy which happened in May 2020 is just another manifestation of the deep-seated racism, discrimination and inequality smoldering for long in the country.
Numbers tell the truth. After having examined 5,494 police-related deaths in the United States between 2013 and 2017, researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that black Americans are 3.23 times more likely than white Americans to be killed by police.
According to media reports by VOA, hate-fueled crimes against Asian Americans also spiked across major U.S. cities last year, in some cases by triple-digit percentages.
Two hundred and forty-five years after Thomas Jefferson penned the doctrine “all men are created equal” in preamble of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, equality still seems like a dream out of reach for a large proportion of Americans.
In February, a group of United Nations human rights experts issued a report, calling on the U.S. administration to adopt wide-ranging reforms to end police violence and to address systemic racism and racial discrimination.
However, skin color is not the only basis for perceived discrimination. Differences in wealth, party, nationality and even age could also lead to division and discrimination in Americans’ daily life.
Ben Shapiro, editor emeritus of The Daily Wire, a right-wing U.S. media outlet, once said coldly that “if somebody who is 81 dies of COVID-19, that is not the same thing as somebody who is 30 dying of COVID-19.”
“If grandma dies in a nursing home at age 81, that’s tragic and it’s terrible; also, the life expectancy in the United States is 80,” he said.
Shapiro’s words were widely echoed and practiced by Washington. As noted by the Washington Post in May 2020, the U.S. anti-pandemic action had become a state-approved massacre that deliberately sacrificed the lives of the elderly, the working class, African Americans, and Hispanic Americans.
VIOLENCE, CRIME AND SOCIAL INSTABILITY
Washington’s inaction and inability to address its human rights blight are bringing about real consequences.
Ever since Floyd’s death, large-scale protests and demonstrations erupted all across the United States. Clashes between “Black Lives Matter” movement and white supremacists have exacerbated social polarization and widened social cracks, which have already existed in the U.S. society, sowing more seeds of hostility and hatred.
Citing data from Gun Violence Archive, an online site that collects gun violence statistics in the United States, the report said more than 41,500 Americans died by gun violence in 2020, an average of more than 110 a day, which is a record. There had been 592 mass shootings nationwide, an average of more than 1.6 a day.
Social instability, COVID-19, and governmental nonfeasance, all together have made the United States an abyss of human rights abuses, eroding the public trust in the government, and dampening their most basic expectations for their lives.
A study published by the National Center for Health Statistics, an organization under the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showed that life expectancy at birth for the total U.S. population fell from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.8 years.
In 2020, a Pew survey showed that as the country struggled with the pandemic and economic recession, public trust in the federal government hovered at near-record lows.
All signs are indicating that more people, both Americans and people of other countries, have come to see through Washington’s hypocrisy over human rights.