The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked off huge protests, some of them furiously violent, across the United States. This is violent outrage that the world is watching with concern and sadistic pleasure as well – it has got converted from a human rights issue of the “Black Lives Matter.” into America bashing.
The America-bashing is particularly directed at President Donald Trump who has withdrawn the US from the world and made some highly provocative statements. Some of the statements were so intolerable that the Huston Police chief told Trump to “keep his mouth shut.” This is nemesis. The canvas of anti-Americanism is widening and so are the voices, some of which are shrill and stinging. China is leading the campaign against the happenings in the US as it seeks to settle scores with Beijing over a host of issues, including the charges that Washington has levelled against Beijing over the pandemic that has shuttered and shattered the world.
George Floyd was black. That became the cause of the police brutality that resulted in his death due to asphyxiation. He kept on telling his tormentor, “I cannot breathe.” But the police officer kept on pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck till his victim lay lifeless.
The outraged, so triggered, was genuine. Such snuffing out of life of people in the broad day light or in thick darkness cannot and should not have gone unchallenged. But this outrage has assumed an outrageous shape, but not the outrageous shape that it has assumed. It is lawlessness. The violence-oriented protests have harmed the cause of the protestors and also of those whom they claimed to be representing. Their claim of “Black Lives Matter” has been shattered by their acts of violence. They were asking for “breathing”, but they have choked the ability of the poor and hapless whose livelihoods have been set afire and burnt to ashes , to breathe. The rioting is not a protest.
Can it be called outrage, audacity or recklessness. You give it any name, the fact is that this is self- destruction.
The death of George Floyd on May 30 was seen as an end of the horrendous act of the day. Many thought so, and it was a mistake. It was not an end, but a beginning of the wave of protests, violence and calls for revenge that seem to have traveled borders. No immediate end is in sight.
There never is a closure to such incidents as many of us in South Asia know it better. But we don’t get the kind of attention that a murder of a black man in America gets the worldwide. What is happening in our part of the world is considered routine. If that is one issue, the other is more striking that we carry our protests beyond the limits of legitimacy at times . The violent protests are more harmful than we think.
A strong dose of candidness is required to admit that mistakes were committed in the past when protests were allowed to go violent, taking presence of forces as provocation. The clashes that followed in 2008, 2010 and 2016 brought several charges from various quartets. Charges are charges, and all charges are reprehensible. In 2008, the political groups and separatists had their own theories to back the agitation. The stones were sanctified as mark of peaceful protests. It was admittedly a downturn from guns to stones, but that doesn’t mean that element of violence is out of stones.
A self-introspection is necessary to understand how many lives were lost. Each life is precious. Equally precious as that of Americans – Black or White. Those relishing the death census as a success are the worst enemies of whatever they claim they stand for.
Unfortunately, the militancy in Kashmir that is pushed as an envelope containing so many tags, depending on who is pushing the card . ” It is described as part of freedom struggle,” that is seen as an open challenge to the sovereignty of India and that evokes a typical response. Matters worsen when Pakistan echoes the same words and describes the armed militants, some of whom were responsible for the civilian killings and that of policemen as well, as “resistance leaders.” Indian system is not at fault when it links the two. Militants chose their path when they pick up guns and start killing people. Their end is known. But why choose a deliberate path of death and destruction. Kashmiri lives also matter, whether that of the promising youngsters, policemen born on the same soil. A thought should be spared for everyone in Kashmir – from the Valley and those who are here for their duty. It is difficult to reconcile, but that is necessary if our lives are to be listed as precious.