Why do Americans represent less than 5% of the world’s population but nearly a third of the known coronavirus death toll? Not because of government incompetence, the Trump administration is arguing, but because Americans are very unhealthy.
The United States organized response to the pandemic had been “historic”, Trump’s health secretary, Alex Azar, told CNN on 17 May, but America “unfortunately” has a “very diverse” population, and black Americans and minorities “in particular” have “significant underlying disease”.
Jake Tapper, the CNN anchor interviewing Azar, paused and squinted. Surely, he asked, Azar was not arguing that “the reason that there were so many dead Americans is because we’re unhealthier than the rest of the world?”
Azar doubled down: “These are demonstrated facts.”
“That doesn’t mean it’s the fault of the American people that the government failed to take adequate steps in February …” Tapper said.
“This is not about fault. It’s about simple epidemiology,” Azar said, adding in a pious tone: “One doesn’t blame an individual for their health condition. That would be absurd.”
Blaming black Americans for dying from a novel virus because they had diabetes or high blood pressure was precisely what Azar was doing. Someone had to be held responsible for an American death toll approaching 100,000 people, worse than any other country’s reported deaths. In order for the Trump administration to remain blameless, someone else had to be blamed, and the administration was now blaming the dead.
It took less than a month after the first shelter-in-place orders to devolve into a full-blown partisan culture war, complete with armed protests egged on by the president; conservatives questioning or denying death numbers; pundits arguing against a continued lockdown with lines like, “You can call me a Grandma killer”; attempts by hair salons and barbers to stage acts of civil disobedience; and some states led by Republican governors moving to quickly reopen, even as other states with Democratic governors announced months of continued restrictions.
A majority of Americans remain supportive of public health restrictions, including nearly half of Republican voters and 68% of people who have lost a job or suffered a pay cut.
The anti-lockdown demonstrations at state capitols have attracted a messy jumble of protesters: anti-vaccine activists and other conspiracy theorists, rightwing provocateurs, members of known anti-government militias, gun rights advocates, established conservative groups backed by wealthy billionaire donors, Republican stalwarts and people who were actually out of work.
It would be wrong to argue that racism was the sole motivation for the protests, or even a decisive factor for the many different protesters who showed up.
But the moment when the US response to coronavirus escalated into a full culture war is revealing. The big protests at state capitols, with crowds of white Americans demanding their governors reopen the economy, started about a week after national news outlets began reporting in early April that black Americans made up a disproportionate number of the dead.
A white man came up to her and punched her in the face while yelling racist slurs about Asian people and COVID-19. Her dog Kato chased the assailant away.
Dakota Holmes is Indigenous.
Dakota’s father, Don Bains, is the former executive director of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and an advisor on Indigenous affairs to Premier John Horgan. The union issued a news release condemning the attack. Read more…
The Muslim community in the US state of Georgia is searching for answers after a sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a Sudanese-American man earlier this month.
Yassin Mohamed, 47, was killed on May 9 by an Evans County sheriff’s deputy near the rural town of Claxton, which sits roughly 200 miles (320km) southeast of Atlanta, the state capital.
According to police reports, Mohamed was throwing rocks at the deputies during the incident that led to his death. He had had several encounters with law enforcement agencies in the 24 hours prior to that incident.
During one of those encounters, Mohamed was taken to hospital, leading the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Georgia) to question whether Mohamed was suffering from some kind of mental health issues.
“We’re unclear as to the mental state of Mr Mohamed, and until the culmination of the investigation we won’t know for sure,” said Murtaza Khwaja, the legal and policy director of CAIR-Georgia, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation.
“What we do know is that law enforcement is treating this a mental health crisis,” Khwaja claimed. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) would not comment on the mental health of Mohamed and the Evan’s County Sheriff’s department did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.
In the May 9 incident, the GBI said in a statement that deputies were called after midnight and found Mohamed walking on the road. An altercation ensued after the deputies attempted to make contact.
Mohamed began throwing rocks at law enforcement, hitting one of the deputies once and “charging” him with a “larger rock”, causing the deputy to fire his weapon, the GBI said.
Mohamed died before being taken to hospital. The deputy was not seriously injured.
Prior to the deadly encounter with the Evans County deputy, Mohamed had “six or seven” interactions with law enforcement and emergency services over the course of the night, according to CAIR.
These included run-ins with the Glennville police department, the Claxton police department, and emergency medical services (EMS). Mohamed was detained by law enforcement and taken to hospital, where he refused treatment, the GBI confirmed to Al Jazeera.
During another instance, Mohamed attacked a police officer and ambulance with a plastic pipe. A video taken by law enforcement and obtained by local news outlet AllOnGeorgia shows the incident.
In the video, Mohamed, who was walking on the road at night, approaches the police car which stopped to approach him, wielding a large, plastic pipe. An officer steps out of his vehicle after warning Mohamed, draws his firearm and appears to drop it, the video shows. Another officer assists in the encounter, and Mohamed is held on the ground. EMS later takes him away.
In times like these, history’s lessons can provide vital resources — offering warnings for the present and hope for the future. We need both more than ever.For example, this year marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In 1948, in the wake of the Holocaust and against the backdrop of the catastrophe of World War II, the world’s leading nations recommitted to the universal idea of human rights; accordingly, the United Nations adopted the General Declaration of Human Rights.
More than 50 years ago in the United States, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired a nation gripped in the civil rights struggle with the concept of love as a cure for fear and hate. As he put it in one of his sermons: “Hate is rooted in fear, and the only cure for fear-hate is love.”
Today, fear is again taking hold. The coronavirus pandemic has created this generation’s great challenge. It has put health care systems under pressure and economies on the verge of collapse. These events have triggered enormous insecurity and make people susceptible to conspiracy theories, stereotyping and scapegoating. With a growing sense of powerlessness, individuals and nations alike have become vulnerable to hate. It’s time for our leaders to resist this age-old fear and boldly champion the cause of human rights and human dignity, once again.
The call to conscience is especially urgent to make now, in the age of coronavirus.
Look up a past pandemic in the history books, and you will quickly find one nationality or minority group that some people blamed for its spread. For the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages, it was Jews. For typhoid, the Irish. During the 1918 flu pandemic, the Spanish. More recently, HIV produced ugliness toward the LGBTQ community and Haitian Americans, swine flu toward Mexicans, Ebola toward Africans, and SARS toward Asian communities. Read more..
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Addressing an audience of Jewish Americans on Saturday, President Donald Trump clearly relished the chants of “four more years” and the peppering of red “Make America Great Again” hats throughout the crowded ballroom.
“The Jewish state has never had a better friend in the White House than your president, Donald J. Trump,” he proudly told thousands gathered at the Israeli-American Council National Summit before lashing Hillary Clinton, Democrats and the previous administration. Read more…
Donald Trump arrives in London next week for a two-day Nato summit which will see him greeted on Tuesday evening by doctors, nurses and other NHS workers leading a protest of tens of thousands outside Buckingham Palace.
The protesters – aiming to highlight potential risks to the NHS in a future US-UK trade deal – will march from Trafalgar Square up the Mall, and gather at Canada Gate when Trump and other Nato leaders meet the Queen at a 6pm drinks reception.
It will mark the formal beginning of a short summit that has been in the diary for 18 months, but has ended up occurring at the closing stages of an election campaign, prompting jitters in No 10 – and making for Labour’s best hope of a comeback. Read more…
A new Reuters report based on testimonies by Iranian officials reveals how the Iranian government orchestrated the September 14 drone strikes that targeted two Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais, disrupting about half of the kingdom’s oil capacity. While the attack was claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and various other countries have accused Iran of plotting the operation.
According to the report, the attack was devised by leading officials of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in May, and was intended to send a message to Saudi Arabia’s ally the United States over its decision to pull out from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, of which I’m a member, released a report yesterday entitled “In the Name of Hate: Examining the Federal Government’s Role in Response to Hate Crimes.” The report appears to lend credence to the Left’s narrative that the U.S. is enduring a wave of white supremacist hate crimes spurred by the election of Donald Trump. The practical effect of the report is to malign supporters of the president as violent extremists and portray the nation as a whole as intrinsically racist. The proposed solution, unsurprisingly, is greater federal involvement in local law enforcement, increased classification of crimes as “hate crimes” subject to federal prosecution, and curtailment of First Amendment freedoms.
The report is grievously flawed.
As I noted earlier this year when Jussie Smollett captivated the nation with his valiant tale of fighting two Nigerian white supremacists without losing hold of his Subway sandwich, the actual statistics about hate crimes in this country confound the Left’s narrative. Last year we were told that an increase of 1,000 reported hate crimes in 2017 versus 2016 was evidence of a “wave of hate” sweeping the country. But as journalist Robby Soave pointed out at the Commission’s hearing, the increase is likely due to the fact that 1,000 more law enforcement agencies began reporting hate crimes to the FBI in 2017. If each new agency reported just one hate crime, that alone would account for the increase. Read more…
Democratic presidential candidates in South Carolina on Saturday accused President Donald Trump of stoking racism as they vied for the state’s black vote in its strategically important early primary.
Seven Democrats participated in a forum at historically black Benedict College a day after Trump was presented an award there for his work on criminal justice, sparking outrage among candidates and temporarily prompting Senator Kamala Harris to pull out.
Harris, a former district attorney and state attorney general in California, spoke at the event on Saturday after the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center, which sponsored Trump’s award, was removed as a sponsor, her campaign said.
A spokeswoman for the nonprofit group did not comment.
“I said I would not come because I just couldn’t believe that Donald Trump would be given an award as it relates to criminal justice reform,” Harris told the audience. Read more…