The US should cease starting and fighting wars abroad because they are blatantly violating human rights and instead take action to reduce the rampant gun violence and racial prejudice at home
Various activities of the USA on human rights around the world can often be observed. The US publishes ‘human rights situation report’ on various countries of the world on Human Rights Day (December 10). Sometimes, it imposes sanctions on some countries for human rights violation. But questions are being raised from various quarters on how much human rights are being protected in their own country by those who are so worried about human rights around the world?
The United States has failed to establish peace in its own country. The human rights of black citizens there are often violated. The country is on top of the list in the killings of children, students and teachers due to indiscriminate firing in educational institutions. In the four years from 2018 to 2021, unprecedented incidents have occurred in US schools. Heinous incidents such as the killing of black citizens in the streets are happening again and again. Even the country’s law and order forces are involved in these incidents.
The US’s intention to use human rights as a tool to exert pressure on other nations has been negated by the US-led West’s selective and unilateral approach to human rights. This strategy has only exacerbated global division.
The human rights situation in the United States is worsening day by day. Political manipulation led to a sharp surge in COVID-19 deaths; shooting deaths hit a new record; fake democracy trampled on people’s political rights; violent law enforcement made life harder for migrants and refugees; discrimination against ethnic minority groups, especially Asians, has intensified. In the meantime, unilateral US actions have created new humanitarian crises across the globe.
The US has always pursued hegemonism, unilateralism and interventionism. The country frequently uses force, resulting in a large number of civilian casualties. Its abusive use of unilateral sanctions has caused humanitarian crises, replacing justice with hegemony, trampling on righteousness, and wanton violation of human rights. The US has become the biggest obstacle and destroyer of the development of the international human rights cause.
According to a report by Education Week, 28 US schools were attacked in the four years from 2018 to 2021. More than 250 students died. Around 300 students suffered paralysis due to injuries. Wikipedia says that in the 20 years after 2000, there were about 300 school attacks where thousands of students died. The US administration has not yet taken any action in this regard.
When Israel indiscriminately kills Palestinians, is it not a violation of human rights in the eyes of America? Human rights are not violated when Saudi carries out massacres in Yemen? When American soldiers indiscriminately kill innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan, is it not a violation of human rights? When blacks are shot and killed in their own country, human rights are not violated!
The murder of George Floyd, a black citizen, caused a stir around the world. This black man was brutally murdered by the police on the streets of New York. He was absolutely innocent. In the same year, Donte Wright and Ahmoud Arberry were victims of Floyd-like incidents: they died at the hands of the white police.
The United States, one of the world’s superpowers, for the past few decades has been deploying its troops in various regions in war-torn countries. The world has seen the chaos they have created in the name of peace in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many countries in the world including Bangladesh has long been a US target. Many are questioning the moral right of the United States to comment on the human rights of other countries without protecting human rights in its own.
On May 14, 2022, at 2.30 pm local time, a supermarket in Buffalo, the second largest and black-dominated city in New York, was suddenly shaken by the sound of gunfire. An 18-year-old with a semi-automatic assault rifle went on an indiscriminate shooting spree. The attack was carried out in military uniform with body armor. Not only that, the young man was also using a camera to broadcast his bloody rampage live online.
Describing the aftermath of the attack, a local police officer told the Buffalo News it was like walking through the set of a horror movie. But it was all real. It was a battlefield. 13 people were shot in that attack in Buffalo. 10 of them were killed. Police later said 11 of the 13 people shot were black. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) described the attack as an incident of ‘violent extremism’. Agent in charge of the FBI’s Buffalo office, Stephen Belangia, told the BBC, “We are investigating both whether this is a hate crime and racially motivated violent extremism.”
Immediately after this attack, the local police arrested the suspected gunman named Peyton S. Gendron. He was charged with ‘first-degree’ murder late on Saturday (May 14). Then the investigation revealed more sensational information.
It is learned that the young man had posted a 180-page ‘manifesto’ online in support of white-supremacist beliefs. He also described immigrants and black people as “substitutes” for white people in hate-filled writing. And through this, the issue of racism in the United States has been discussed anew.
The notion that whites are being ‘replaced’ by blacks in the United States has recently moved from the country’s far-right political ideology to mainstream Republican Party politics. And many US media personalities are helping to popularise this ideology. The group has even described the arrival of migrants at the country’s southern border to enter the US as asylum seekers as an ‘invasion’.
Peyton Gendron, the young man who attacked Buffalo, tried to justify his demonic attack by promoting the ideology that white people in the United States are being weakened by immigrants. His manifesto was full of racist words about black Americans.
Peyton, the attacker, did not mention the word ‘immigrant’ much in his posts on the messaging platform Discord over the past six months. Instead, he wrote insultingly racist articles about blacks. In archived posts from 2021, the young man used the word ‘immigrant’ 12 times, ‘replacement’ 18 times and ‘replacement’ 22 times. But he used the word ‘black’ more than a hundred times.
The Buffalo attacker claimed to be inspired by the killing of 51 worshipers by attacking two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019. Christchurch attacker Brenton Tarrant was using the camera to broadcast the attack live online. He also published his own manifesto before the attack.
But the Buffalo attackers were more influenced by indigenous discontent than by the Christchurch massacre. He searched for people living near him by zip code in order to ‘kill as many blacks as possible’. And his research led him to a super shop on the east side of Jefferson.
According to the United States’ Gun Violence Archive, there have been nearly two hundred shootings or gun attacks in the country since last January. In addition, a recently published report says that between 2019 and 2020, the rate of death in firearm attacks in the United States has increased by about 35 percent overall.
Additionally, mass shootings and other gun violence have turned into a public health epidemic in the US. In reality, in the US last year, there were close to 40,000 gun-related fatalities. However, the gun lobby is powerful enough to oppose any change in gun ownership rules because of the loss of billions of dollars in income for the arms business.
But the Buffalo massacre stands out not only because of the number of victims, but also because of the political nature of the attack. Analysts say the incident must be seen in the context of the growing normalization of racism and political violence in the United States.
The Buffalo bomber wrote in his manifesto, “Blacks are the most privileged race in the United States and many Western countries.” But still they say they are the most oppressed. His comments are similar to former US President Donald Trump’s comments.
Trump has attracted white supremacists by making anti-Black comments during his tenure. Many believe that his overtly racist attitude has alienated the Republican Party from mainstream political ideology.
According to information from US-based independent media outlet Education Week, 17 US states have recently signed laws banning or tightening ‘critical race theory’ or racism and sexuality education, and 12 more states are considering similar legislation. Apart from this, discussions are going on about removing some books that may spread racist attitudes.
These collective efforts are like a mockery of the history of American racism and xenophobia. Discussions of the racial history of the United States today turn the spotlight on the country’s existing poverty, unemployment, and social deprivation. According to many social scientists, centuries of neglect, neglect, and lack of opportunity have pushed a large portion of blacks in the United States to violence. As a result, many white people in the country feel unsafe. And hate is born from that insecurity.
In addition, the number of gun attacks in the United States is constantly increasing. According to various local media reports, at least two hundred people have lost their lives in gun attacks in the country so far this year. In this situation, lawmakers and experts demand reform of the private arms control law.
They say gun violence has become a serious social problem in the United States that cannot be stopped. For this, there is a need for strict legislation and its implementation.
When the general public is in panic due to gun attacks one after another, new questions have been raised about the role of the US police.
According to a report by the US media, the Washington Post, since 2015, an average of 1,000 people has been killed by police in the United States every year. Since 2015, The Washington Post has started collecting data on every shooting incident involving police officers on duty in the United States. Earlier in 2014, after an unarmed black man named Michael Brown was killed by the police in Ferguson, USA, an investigation came out that the FBI did not disclose more than half of the shootings or torture by the country’s police.
It is clear to everyone that liberal democratic norms have deteriorated in the US. In particular, there has been a reduction in the right to protest, as well as an uptick in societal stigmatization and persecution of journalists and human rights advocates.
In spite of being one of the first to sign the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women after the UN adopted it in 1979, this is a significant setback for women’s rights in a nation that is one of only seven that has not ratified it.
The Guantanamo Bay prison has been the scene of repeated torture scandals. Many experts urged the US to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. They also called for reparations to be made for tortured and arbitrarily detained prisoners, and for those who authorised and engaged in torture to be held accountable, as required under international law.
The US sanctions on Iran’s oil sector have resulted in Iran’s inability to import sufficient medical supplies, affecting the Iranians’ right to life and health. The US embargoes against Syria have severely affected the Syrian people’s enjoyment of economic, social, and cultural rights.
The war and instability have made nearly a third of the Afghan population refugees. A total of 3.5 million Afghans have been displaced by the conflict, and nearly 23 million face extreme hunger, including 3.2 million children under the age of five. When the United States withdrew its troops from Afghanistan, it immediately froze billions of dollars in foreign exchange reserves at the Afghan central Bank, causing the Afghan economy to be on the brink of collapse and making life worse for the people.
The United States has committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, arbitrary detention, abuse of torture, torture of prisoners, and indiscriminate unilateral sanctions in the Middle East and surrounding areas.
What is ridiculous is the fact that it is such an overused tactic that many a country, developing ones in particular, knows very well that the US and its allies are not really concerned about human rights.
The US is the country that has launched and got involved in most of the military conflicts or even invasions of other countries since World War II. And every one of them has been a human rights disaster. But the US and its allies do not care about that.
It is high time that the US changed its attitude toward human rights issues and held dialogues with other countries on an equal footing to really promote the development of human rights.
The US should cease starting and fighting wars abroad because they are blatantly violating human rights and instead take action to reduce the rampant gun violence and racial prejudice at home. This would be preferable to targeting some countries in order to forward its political agenda.
It’s time for the US to reflect, take action to clean up its own mess, and stop accusing other nations of violating human rights without any evidence.
The writer is a Bangladeshi teacher, columnist and writer. [email protected]