Following recent undisguised assassinations by local police of several black men that led to the largest demonstrations in recent US history, President Trump launched his first 2020 campaign rally near Tulsa, Oklahoma, where, in 1921, 300 black citizens celebrating the end of slavery were murdered, leading Black Americans to refer to that date as ‘Juneteenth’. The choice was clearly intended to whip up white racist support, and in the height of irony, while belittling the danger of COVID-19, the President’s re-election campaign required everyone attending the rally to sign a document clearing it of any responsibility should they contract the virus.
What surprises me is that while providing 24/7 coverage of America’s worst crisis in recent memory, the press never mentions the fact that Caucasians — or ‘white’ people — account for only 16% of the total world population. By exploiting the global south for centuries, they have been able to have fewer, better fed and better educated children than black or brown populations, both in the North’s ghettos and in the ‘developing’ world. Inevitably, this has resulted in Caucasians accounting for a much smaller percentage of the global population than the other races combined. It’s common knowledge that China is the most populous nation in the world, followed by India; but few people know that Africa is close behind, with more than 1.3 million inhabitants. In the United States, faced with increasing state violence, Black Lives Matter has long called for a global alliance, and following the assassination of George Floyd, it is being heard far and wide, especially in Europe.
After two centuries of colonialism and five years of black and brown immigrants fleeing US wars ( ‘brown’ here designating Muslims), Europeans now largely accept the fact that they are multi-cultural societies, with its attendant challenges. Very differently, while America’s race problem has occupied the headlines from the time of the country’s founding, Americans are increasingly indifferent to the really existing world below the city on the hill, especially a South no longer willing to be exploited. In a notable exception, MSNBC’s most valuable anchor, Ali Velshi, a Canadian of Gujarati origin, is letting a progressive breeze into the airways, allowing a guest to actually condemn Capitalism, playing a clip of Malcolm X, and interviewing his daughter, who is a professor of law and an activist. None of the other American anchors I watch link the demonstrations taking place in France, Germany, Denmark to police violence against minority citizens, giving the impression that it’s all about us.
Having been under US influence for decades, Europeans, aided by an openly political press, are used to thinking in global terms, while the US media still bans the slogan, ‘Workers of the World, Unite!’. Thanks to George Floyd, this may be about to change: progressives are permitted to identify the spoilers of their demonstrations as White Nationalists, contradicting Trump’s White Nationalist Attorney General, Bill Barre, who in his misleadingly calm voice tags them as Anti-Fa (anti-fascists), or ‘leftists’.
The United States has come so far from America’s war against fascism that this handle has become a slur, while White Nationalists are rarely criticized. When in 2017 they held a torchlight parade in Charlottesville Virginia, chanting “You will not replace us,” in a now famous quote, Trump opined ‘There were good people on both sides’. Few remember, if they noticed it at the time, that his most powerful backers in 2016 were White Nationalists, ranging from David Duke, the Grand Wizard (sic) of the Ku Klux Klan, to the millionaire hedge fund owner Robert Mercer, who chose several members of Trump’s first cabinet.
The tension between the general population and those charged with maintaining ‘law and order’ is reflected by that between mayors and their police-chiefs. (The failure of a white police chief to adequately confront the death of a black man torpedoed South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigeig’s presidential campaign, and after Floyd’s death at the hands of local police, the young, white mayor of Minneapolis whined about being stressed.) Two weeks after the assassination of George Floyd, as his brother testified to the House Judicial Committee, and former police officer Chauvin’s accomplices pled innocence (perhaps they feared their superior — whose name, by the way, is French for chauvinist ….) Europeans were listening to those who account for the world’s majority, while an ignorant American minority continues to dance on the head of a pin.
Deena Stryker is a US-born international expert, author and journalist that lived in Eastern and Western Europe and has been writing about the big picture for 50 years. Over the years she penned a number of books, including Russia’s Americans. Her essays can also be found at Otherjones. Especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”