Saturday, June 6, 2020

George Floyd, Pandemic of Racism, and Trump's Response

Protests outside the White House over the killing of George Floyd by a police officer. PA Images (source: opendemocracy.net)

The death of a black man, George Floyd shows that racial problems still occur in the United States of America. "The pandemic of racism", according to lawyer for Floyd said, lead to Floyd's death and also adds to the long list of racism in the country.

Meanwhile, President Trump's response is considered insensitive to racism. Trump seems to be showing his power to confront demonstrators who have joined various property looters.

ABC News polling shows that 74% of Americans view George Floyd's death as an underlying racial injustice problem (5/6). When asked, "Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19)?" About 60% respondent says: disapproved. (see: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/74-americans-view-george-floyds-death-underlying-racial/story?id=71074422)

Floyd's death and the protests show that there is unfinished in the American melting pot. Those who come from various backgrounds - White, Hispanic, Black, Asian, etc. - until now have had to deal with racism.

Brookings Institutions projects

According to William H. Frey, a senior follow at Metropolitan Policy Program, Brookings Intitution, The US will become ‘minority white’ in 2045. Sensus projects shows that youthful minorities are the engine of future growth (see: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2018/03/14/the-us-will-become-minority-white-in-2045-census-projects/).

Another problem in America is about White Supremacy. White supremacy still exists in the body of the country. Since the beginning, racial differences have occurred a long time in America. Barack Obama's rise as president of the United States was a breath of fresh air for blacks, but when Trump came to power there seemed to be an "revenge" impression of Obama's black leadership and of course his party's orientation was different.

For me, President Trump should be brave to give a terrorist label for the White Supremacy who have using terror as a way to conduct their vision. He must be fairly about this matter. All terrorist attack should be designated as a terrorist.

George Floyd protest around the world (source: voa)

By the way, in discussions held by Radio SmartFM (6/6) regarding "Trump and the rise and the fall of racism", various speaker critisized Trump like a "very bad to overcome covid-19", "insensitive in the case of Floyd", etc. Trump should change his way to handle the problem (internal riots, South China sea disputes, etc.).

Until now, it seems that many people are not happy with Trump's response to the Floyd case. He even wanted to mobilize the national guard if the wave of protests continued. Some say, it's just a snapping like Trump used to do before.

To be sure, Trump is currently going to think how he can win the presidential election battle in 2020. His opponent, Joe Biden, is of course getting "fresh wind" (angin segar) in the midst of Trump's failure to solve the covid-19 problem which is currently the highest death rate in the world (more than 100 million people).

From Indonesia we hope that Trump can be wiser in his domestic affairs. The slogan "America first" or "Make America great again" should be an inspiration to care about creating justice in society. Inequality must be opposed in accordance with the mandate of the American constitution. But can Trump do it?

When I was in front of the white house walking from the National Museum of African-American in the area of National Mall, Washington, D.C (August 2019)

Trump seems to be very supportive of white supremacy, but on the other side of his foreign policy, for example in "religious freedom", he seems to embrace all. All who are victims of injustice are helped or supported by America. So, there is an impression that America supports appreciation and respect for human dignity but on the other hand there is an impression that it is a double standard of American politics.

In the eyes of Indonesian expert, Dewi Fortuna Anwar, America is currently in a "crisis in a crisis". Before the virus was finished, they had to be attacked again with Floyd's death which resulted in social unrest. Other countries seem to wait and see what happens. China certainly observes closely the event in the midst of a trade war with America.

Furthermore, Mr. Trump must pay attention to the American constitution and human rights. America is a big country, a world war winner, and a champion in democracy. America must be an example for others. America must be able to face this internal problem by adhering to the constitution and human values.

He must to win people's voice and act like the great person in American history. If  he doesn't act by the constitution then he will be known as a demagogue as an American professor, in a discussion at Zoom Meeting (5/6), said, "he is a talented demagogue!" And, if he wants to write a book, said Jack Shafer at Politico, "he could write the book on talking like a demagogue."

As a statesman, not a tyrant, the president should remind four critical qualities namely, a bedrock of principles, a moral compass, a vision, and the ability to build a consensus to achieve that vision. In this internal problem, Mr. Trump should have a long vision to build a democracy and prosperity not only for American but also for the global world.

Finally, this is the best time to do the right thing for American and global world. Just be a good leader as well as a good statesman, Mr. President.

YANUARDI SYUKUR, President of Rumah Produktif Indonesia, Assistant Professor at Department of Anthropology Universitas Khairun, Ternate and PhD candidate at Department of Antropologi UI.

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