Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
"I Can't Breath":
Racism and War in America and Beyond
By Ramzy Baroud
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, December 15, 2014
America’s ruling elites are blatant in their intentions of
maintaining “white privilege” at home and economic dominance by military
Their “democracy” in both of these regions is a ruse,
and it is yet to deliver any degree of social justice and equality to the
millions of disadvantaged Americans which are comprised mostly of black and
Latino communities. The unequal distribution of wealth in the United States
is simply staggering. In fact, 75.4% of all wealth in the US is owned by the
richest 10 percent, according to the
authoritative Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook (2013).
influx of wealth comes at the heels of a major economic recession, of which
rich bankers were mostly to blame, but were never held accountable. Instead,
millions of lower-middle class and poor Americans became even poorer. And
since America’s political and economic classes largely overlap and feed upon
the privileges of one another, millions of American lost their homes and
the rich got richer.
Good branding aside, the “land of
opportunity” has always been overrated, as has American democracy, which has
been rigged for generations to produce more or less similar results. The
media - with overt and covert racial supremacy displayed by the likes of Fox
News - is there to ensure that
consent is manufactured
in such a clever way, so that ordinary Americans constantly feel trapped
between a ruling class of two strands, Republicans and Democrats, all vying
for votes with the ultimate goal of maintaining their privilege.
low presidential ratings, and the
ever decreasing credibility of Congress, most Americans are not
impressed by the ongoing political charade. However, as most Americans are
held in bondage to debt, constantly striving to pay bills, incessantly
working to remain financially afloat, many feel disempowered - thus
After the deadly attacks of September 11,
2001, the government grew even bolder in manufacturing, perhaps coercing,
political consent by playing on real or imagined fears. Under George W. Bush
the “global war on terrorism” became a tool in which Americans found
themselves losing fundamental rights, herded, shoes in hand, in line to
strip naked at airport scanning rooms. All in the name of “national
The “see something say something” mentality, empowered
by unconstitutional and
PATRIOT act laws, has turned communities against one another. Whatever
tolerance that existed prior to Sep 11 has vanished thanks to the constant
stream of hateful media propaganda, phony experts on Islam, or brown people
Thus, it was no surprise that a month after the attacks,
an ABC poll indicated that 47 percent of Americans had a favorable view of
Islam. 13 years after the deadly events, and despite the killing and maiming
of millions of Muslims so that Bush could tap into greater oil wealth in the
name of fighting terrorism,
only 27 percent of Americans carry the same view today. And why should
anyone be surprised when around-the-clock news networks continue to dish out
the ever selective news of Islamic terrorism from Nigeria’s Boko Haram to
the Middle East's ISIS, and so on.
But this matter hardly concerns
the media and the ruling class alone. The American sense of “manifest
destiny”, accompanied by the “white man’s burden”, never truly faded into
mere historical references. They are real notions that continue to exist and
define “white privilege” at home, and military crusades outside.
Indeed, “democracy”, coupled by the upholding of “human rights” have been
injected time and again to justify all sorts of undemocratic measures and
numerous wars and military interventions, which have mostly victimized -
let’s face it - brown nations across the globe.
These are not
random thoughts compelled by the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East
-resulting from American interventionism and its complete failure to take
responsibility for its own actions. Yes, they are partly due to that, but
they are also on account of the Grand Jury verdict not to indict a New York
police officer who choked to death an economically disadvantaged black man
Eric Garner. This only days succeeding the refusal to indict the officer
who shot and killed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and after
Tamir Rice faced the same fate by a police officer in Cleveland, Ohio.
Both also happened to be of African descent.
And in case you are
wondering, yes, there is a clear link between racism at home and war abroad.
US media insists on reducing the highly involved issue to simple
terminology and sound bites, barely scratching the surface of a deep and
long existing racial divide. Fox News is finally taking some intermittent
breaks from demonizing Muslims, to demonizing blacks, as if they have not
been victims of
systematic and historic discrimination that extends centuries into the
Some liberals and progressives - who enjoy basking in the
glory of appearing liberal and progressive - are quick to protest the moral
outrage of their country’s historically rigged social and economic system,
of which many of them benefited, at the expense of others. They are outraged
as if the news of Garner’s and Brown’s fate are anomalies in an otherwise
Yet, the system has always been
rigged, and none of it was ever a secret. It was designed that way so
that the privileged remain wealthy and protected by laws that were enshrined
for that specific purpose:
As for police violence targeting black
communities, a report in 2012 indicated that a
black person is killed every 28 hours in the United States. Rarely do
such killings call for mobilization or any kind of collective soul searching
on the part of the white majority.
While the killing of three
Americans by ISIS was enough to take the nation to another useless war that
has already killed thousands, the routine killing of unarmed black men and
children fails to yield even proper trials, needless to say indictments. The
moral inconsistency is not difficult to spot.
One recalls Bush’s
insistence that American soldiers, no matter how hideous their crimes were
aboard, were never to face a
trial before an international criminal court.
The message was
simple: those who serve power will not be disowned. This remains the case
whether the victim is an unarmed black American child, an Iraqi man or an
The Washington elite refuse to take responsibility.
The onus, instead, is always on the victim to do some soul searching to
improve their chances for living better lives; blacks simply need to behave
themselves, and Iraqis need to appreciate the perks bestowed on them by
“American values” and democracy. The US, however, is free to carry out the
very violent policies that yield terrorism in the first place.
how does one quit being the color of their own skin? Black people didn’t
choose to be slaves; didn’t devise the Jim Crow laws; didn’t construct the
insurmountable system of social and economic inequality and apartheid that
has been set in place for too many generations to count; they didn’t design
the unfair tax system that keeps the poor poor forever; or the prison system
that disproportionately incarcerates black men.
All of this has been
the work of a well-devised system that has access to wealth and a monopoly
on power that is protected by willing goons who don’t hesitate to choke an
ill black man to death because he was “caught” selling cigarettes to feed
his now fatherless 6 children.
“I cannot breath,” were Eric Garner’s
He died, but many millions from New York to Missouri,
to Kabul and elsewhere are still gasping for air.
- Ramzy Baroud is
an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and
the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a
Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).