President Obama, protect innocent lives

President Obama, protect innocent lives

By THE SUNDAY GUARDIAN | 24 September, 2016

The camera does not lie, and now that it has become commonplace to take video footage of events, police across the United States are finding nowhere to hide while persisting in a centuries-old policy of discrimination against the African-American community. Again and again, unarmed African-American teenagers and young people are being gunned down by trigger happy police officers in cities across the US. When Barack Obama took over as President of the United States nearly eight years ago, it was forecast that the relations between the races would improve and that justice would finally be done to the African-American community. Instead, the Obama presidency has been used by bigots as cover for their loathsome actions, including hiding behind police uniforms in order to wreak death and grievous injury on unarmed African-Americans. Increasingly, those whom nature has endowed with more than a light tan are discovering that the arrival on the scene of a police car in a US neighbourhood may equal a death warrant. Not only that, those who innocently cross into private space while walking on roads may get shot by jumpy homeowners of Caucasian descent, who have been conditioned to regard those with dusky complexions are inherently dangerous to their security. Colour in the US plays a role even more toxic than caste has in India. Although legal forms of discrimination have ended, the differential degree of employment and participation in education of the African-American community indicates that there is still an invisible colour bar, an unseen prejudice which prevents the African-American community from fully participating in the opportunities available in what is by far still the world’s most innovative and dyadic economy, a country in which three million Indian-American citizens have established themselves in the front rank of society. Although there are sometimes acts of discrimination, overall the Indian-American community has thrived in the US, in the process forming bonds that link together the world’s two largest democracies.  On a visit to India, President Barack Obama used the last hour of his stay to deliver a homily on the need for justice towards all. Somehow that message disappeared on his next stop, Saudi Arabia, where those of a faith different from the narrow variant promoted by the state face discrimination and indeed imprisonment if caught openly practising their faith. Such a double standard has of course been commonplace in the diplomacy of the Washington Beltway, that seeks to promote democracy in Myanmar while ignoring its absence in the sheikhdoms of the Middle East. The US, together with the EU and China, has for long showed a touching concern towards the less than 15% of the population of Kashmir that are of a Wahhabi inclination, ignoring the rights and demands of the others in a state tottered by interference from the ISI and by international terrorist groups. President Obama should turn his attention to his own country, so that his Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, is enabled to ensure that the trigger-happy instincts of clusters within police forces across the US get curbed. The way in which innocent young people who are African-American have been gunned down by those presumed to be defending law and order, is indefensible. Of course all lives matter. But this ignores the reality of the sharply differential treatment meted out to African-American youths by elements of the police in a country whose leaders constantly lecture others about human rights. Black lives are precious, as much as white, yellow or brown lives, and all need to be protected from arbitrary action. Hopefully, President Obama will work hard to ensure that the stain on his legacy caused by police insensitivity gets cleaned up through firm action. Those who commit murder in the guise of law enforcement should not be allowed to get away.

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