BEIJING – Washington has long been accustomed to lecturing others on human rights, yet the recent mass street protests sweeping across the United States against racial discrimination and police brutality, as well as the raging coronavirus pandemic rocking the country have slapped the self-proclaimed guardian of human rights in the face.
The tragic death of George Floyd is just the tip of the iceberg of human rights violations at home, notably against minority groups.
Over the decades, America’s human rights record has gone from bad to worse because of persistent racial discrimination, growing law-enforcement abuses, rampant gun violence and a yawning wealth gap.
Across America today, African Americans are facing an ever higher risk of dying at the hands of police due to the color of their skin. According to Mapping Police Violence, a research and advocacy group, Black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be killed by law-enforcement officers.
Across America today, people of color are more likely to die during the deadly COVID-19 outbreak than the white population. Recent data compiled by the non-partisan APM Research Lab revealed that African Americans are dying at a rate of 50.3 per 100,000 people, compared with 20.7 for whites.
And across America today, equal job opportunities are still out of reach for minorities trapped in miscellaneous low-paying jobs. They constitute 58 percent of agricultural workers; 70 percent of maids and housekeepers; and 74 percent of concierges, baggage porters and bellhops, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It is true that those problems are very hard nuts to crack for a variety of reasons including the country’s increasingly polarized politics. Yet politicians of both parties seem to have lost the motivation, the wisdom and the ability to reach across the partisan divide and make a difference for the better. More troubling is that this White House has made things far worse.
As angry protesters continue to chant “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” in more than 40 cities in the United States, the current administration has chosen not to communicate with demonstrators but put on a strongman show with incendiary threats.
The irony is that these Washington politicians who vow to be tough are the same ones who once loudly accused Hong Kong police of violating human rights for doing their job to stop masked rioters from blocking roads and vandalizing public and private property in the Chinese city.
Furthermore, this White House’s pandemic response has been a human rights catastrophe. The United State is now tragically leading the world both in infections and fatalities.
The human right record of the United States is not only notorious at home but appalling aboard.
The United States has committed one human rights disaster after another across the globe in recent years. It overturned a government in Iraq and bombed civilians in Syria under the pretext of promoting so-called freedom and democracy. It has deported immigrant parents and caged their children. It has refused to lift its unilateral sanctions on Cuba and Iran, suffocating their fight against the pandemic.
The world’s largest human rights abuser is no doubt the United States.
Still, some politicians in Washington, in their cold-blooded pursuit of American global dominance, have continued to use human rights as a political tool to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, introducing further chaos and instability in a world of growing crises and challenges.
George Washington, the first president of the United States, once wrote that “the bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions.”
If Washington were alive today, he would be deeply distressed that his country, instead of looking after the oppressed and persecuted, has become a bully against its own people and around the world. The current U.S. administration and those to follow should revisit the teachings of America’s founding fathers. They might learn a thing or two.