SAN FRANCISCO, Jun 27 (IPS) – A recent Justice Department report concluded that “systemic” racial bias in the Minneapolis Police Department “made what happened to George Floyd possible.”
In the three years since Floyd was brutally murdered by a white police officer, discussions nationwide about systemic racism have expanded far beyond focusing on law enforcement to also assess a variety of other government functions.
But that scrutiny stops at the water’s edge, stopping short of investigating whether racism has been a factor in US military interventions abroad. Hidden in plain sight is the fact that virtually everyone killed by American firepower in the “war on terror” for more than two decades has been people of color. This remarkable fact goes unnoticed in a country where, in stark contrast, the racial aspects of domestic policies and outcomes are constant themes of public discourse. Certainly the United States does not attack a country because people of color live there. But when people of color live there, it is politically easier for American leaders to subject them to war, due to the institutional racism and often unconscious bias that is common in the United States. Racial inequities and injustices are painfully evident in domestic contexts, from the police and courts to legislative bodies, financial systems and economic structures. A nation so deeply affected by individual and structural racism at home is likely to be affected by such racism in its approach to war. Many Americans recognize that racism exerts a significant influence on their society and many of its institutions. Yet the extensive political debates and media coverage devoted to US foreign policy and military affairs rarely mention, let alone explore the implications of, the reality that the several hundred thousand civilians directly killed in America’s “war on terror” have been almost entirely people of color The flip side of the biases that facilitate public acceptance of waging war on non-whites came to light when Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022. News coverage included reports that war victims “have blue eyes and blonde hair” and “look like us.” ”said Lorraine Ali, television critic for the Los Angeles Times.
“Writers who had previously addressed conflicts in the Gulf region, often focusing on geopolitical strategy and employing moral abstractions, seemed for the first time to empathize with the plight of civilians.” Such empathy is too often skewed by the race and ethnicity of the people killed. The Association of Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists has deplored “the pervasive mindset in Western journalism to normalize tragedy in parts of the world such as the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Latin America. It dehumanizes and makes their experience of war something normal and expected.” A modern version of what WEB Du Bois called, 120 years ago, “the problem of the color line: the relation of the darker races to the lighter ones” persists today. The global power alignments and geopolitical agendas of the 21st century have propelled the United States into a seemingly endless war in countries where few white people live. Racial, cultural, and religious differences have made it all too easy for most Americans to think of the victims of the US war efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere as “the other.”
Their suffering is far more likely to be seen as merely regrettable or inconsequential rather than heartbreaking or unacceptable. What Du Bois called “the color line problem” keeps empathy to a minimum. “The history of American wars in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America has exuded a stench of white supremacy, discounting the value of lives on the other end of American bullets, bombs, and missiles,” I concluded in my new book. . war made invisible. “Yet racial factors in war decisions receive very little mention in the US media and virtually none in the political world from officials in Washington.” At the same time, on the surface, Washington’s foreign policy may seem like a model of interracial connection. Like presidents before him, Joe Biden has reached out to foreign leaders of different races, religions and cultures, such as when he punched Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, at their summit ago. a year, while dismissing alleged human rights. rights concerns in the process. In general, in the US political and media arenas, people of color who have suffered from US wars abroad have been relegated to a kind of psychological apartheid: separate, unequal, and implicitly unimportant.
And so, when Pentagon forces kill them, systemic racism makes it less likely that Americans really care.
norman solomon is the national director of RootsAction.org and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He is the author of a dozen books, including War Made Easy. His latest book, War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine, was published in June 2023 by The New Press.
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© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service