Editorial: Trump fueling American divide amid protests over death of black man
Protests against racial discrimination are sweeping across the United States following the death of George Floyd, a black man, due to asphyxiation from sustained pressure after a Caucasian Minneapolis police officer held him down on the ground with a knee to his neck and back for several minutes while he was handcuffed.
Numerous residents have taken to the streets not only in Minnesota in the Midwest, where the fatal incident took place, but also in major cities like New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta, to let their voices against racism be heard.
However, some protesters have gone on the rampage, turning demonstrations into riots in some areas. Night-time curfews were imposed on one city after another, and National Guard troops have been mobilized to quell the uprising. The nation is undergoing extraordinary circumstances.
The turmoil should be promptly brought under control. And yet, President Donald Trump has uttered comments that make one question his integrity.
Trump has called demonstrators "thugs" and provoked them by calling their protests "acts of domestic terror." He also intimidated rioters by tweeting "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," and even threatened to deploy the U.S. military -- on its own soil and against its own citizens.
If the president, who ought to be advocating against violence, is instead to wield force, it may well spur demonstrators into even more rioting.
As if in anticipation of such a development, Trump has mobilized National Guard troops from several states to Washington. The U.S. military police units are reportedly preparing for potential mobilization.
If U.S. forces are deployed, it would be the first move of its kind since the riots in Los Angeles in 1992, which turned into sheer turmoil. Most of the demonstrations currently underway are peaceful and provide no cause for military deployment.
"I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters," Trump stated. If that is the case, he should be acting on his words, not just uttering them.
Behind these ever-intensifying protests and rallies across the U.S. lies the fact that there have been seemingly endless cases of black people killed by police violence. It is only natural for black citizens to raise their voices against such unjust treatment.
There apparently are also effects from the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, which has boosted domestic unemployment and thrown those in poverty into further plight. There are numerous people in the U.S. who have no access to health care.
Amid these circumstances, it is the responsibility of the U.S. president to address these problems and find out how to resolve them without aggravating the deep-rooted racial conflict and growing social divide.
President Trump, however, is rather fueling the divide within his own country. He is trying to shift the focus of the problem by accusing some of the protesters who have gone on the rampage as being responsible, instead of turning his eyes on the very root of the ailing society.
Such political tactics are nothing new for Trump. In regard to the botched U.S. response to the coronavirus, the president has also attempted to shift the entire responsibility to China.
If left unaddressed, the American divide could reach a point of no return. Dogmatic principles could prevail and democracy could wane, leading for "law and order" to fall apart.