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The Express Tribune Editorial 5 June 2020

Not so invisible Americans

In the United States, white supremacists have existed side by side with many great white women and men, with Abraham Lincoln in the forefront, who struggled for the elimination of racial and economic discrimination against black Americans. Black Americans with their white counterparts achieved varied degrees of success in in their mission. Unfortunately, the bane of racism rears its ugly head sometimes bringing to the fore the sad fact that black Americans are still a long way from being treated like other citizens, especially the whites.
The murder of a young African-American at the hands of a white policeman is not the first incident of its kind. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 has sparked protests not only in the United States but in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia. Three policemen have been fired and charged, with the main culprit, Derek Chauvin, slapped with the charge of manslaughter. The last mentioned cop pressed his knees on the victim’s neck for around nine minutes. With great difficulty he uttered he could not breathe several times, but his heart-rending plaint failed to move the merciless policemen. President Donald Trump and other high functionaries have repeatedly pledged that the law would take its course and the culprits would be brought to book. Protests are still continuing in the US and the outside world.
Black Americans are badly underrepresented in education and jobs, and they are at a disadvantage in almost all spheres of life mainly because of the colour of their skin. They constitute 13% of the adult population of the country but only 43% own houses as compared to 72% of the whites. While the average annual income of non-Hispanic white males is around $171,000, the average income for black households stands at a mere $17,100. Studies have established that black adults are five times more likely to end up in prison as compared to their white counterparts. Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women. There are many areas in different parts of the US where prosperous white-dominated localities exist adjacent to areas inhabited by blacks where poverty and deprivation reign.
The prejudice against black Americans was also brought to the fore when hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, where the blacks constitute the majority population. The callousness of the authorities in New Orleans has been well documented by environment writer Naomi Kline in her acclaimed book, entitled Shock and Awe.
The African-Americans have been struggling for justice for long and they have been ably supported by white Americans. Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery in the 19th century. Martin Luther King Jr’s memorable speech ‘I have a dream’ was delivered from near the White House to a massive crowd of both black and white people on August 8, 1963. King’s speech played a significant role in the civil rights movement that won many rights for the black people. Singer Pete Seeger song “We shall overcome someday…/We will walk hand in hand someday…” became popular during the civil rights movement, and remains so to this day.


ISPR warning


In a stern message for India, the spokesperson for Pakistan Army has warned of the ‘uncontrollable and unintended consequences’ that any military adventurism might lead to. In a TV interview on Wednesday, Major General Babar Iftikhar noted that this year has seen over 1,200 ceasefire violations from the Indian side — leading to almost 100 civilian casualties — as well as a couple of failed intrusion attempts by Indian quadcopters that were finally shot down by Pakistani forces. It was thus pretty reasonable for him to mock claims from Indian commanders that intrusions from Pakistan keep taking place in “one of the most militarised zones in the world”.
The chief of the ISPR also accused India of using human shields by placing its artillery in civilian areas so that Pakistan would be forced to attack non-combatants if it were to respond in kind to an Indian attack. “We are always trying not to harm civilians living on the other side,” he said while noting that civilians in Indian Occupied Kashmir already have to live under the shadow of war due to the brutality of the Indian regime. He also scoffed at the more outlandish accusations being thrown at Pakistan by the Indian government and media, such as terrorists sick with the Covid-19 coronavirus crossing the border to infect people in IOK.
The general, while mentioning other odd Indian efforts to divert attention from domestic troubles, said Islamabad and the army both believe that New Delhi is planning a false-flag operation. “Lately, India has faced embarrassment on several fronts,” he said, pointing to its doomed staredown with China, tensions with Nepal, and terrible management of the Covid-19 situation.
As we mentioned earlier this week, at least some of the failures raised by the military spokesperson were themselves actually failed attempts to change the narrative. It is an unfortunate reality we face that until a competent regime takes charge in India, we will be used as the bogeyman to misdirect from the problems facing our neighbour. Unfortunately, because their propaganda scriptwriters seem to be D-listers rather than award winners, it just doesn’t stick, forcing Delhi to keep upping the ante, and risking taking the region to the brink of war.


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