A rather contentious debate is ensuing corridors of power in USA dealing with the issue of minority rights.
The recent firing at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church (Charleston, South Carolina) which killed 8 African American worshippers by a rather fanatic white teenager is neither the first nor the last such incident in the history. Rather the iconic place of worship witnessed its first attack way back in 1822 and since then not only it but scores of places of worship visited by the minority African Americans (13.2 per cent of the total American Population) have witnessed such incidents. Rather in the decade of 90’s there were dozen such incidents.
But are African Americans alone in their trails of expecting a great harmony with the majority Whites? The answer to this is ‘NO’.
In past decade or so nearly 50 Hindu temples have either been vandalised or attacked. Several Sikh Gurudwaras have witnessed similar incidents including killing of 6 people at a Gurudwara in Wisconsin.
What’s amazing is that many instances the incidents go unreported. Indeed a recent attack on a Hindu temple near Seattle in the state of Washington revealed that the temple authorities didn’t report a similar incident that happened some years ago for fear of intimidation.
One might counter the stance that religious rights may not be an end to all and equating them in totality with a much larger topic of minority rights would not be a right approach but we can’t deny that they do have their own important role in larger schemes of things.
What’s important here is to mention that the cradle of human rights, equality and minority rights may not be as rosy as they appear to be in the USA.
I wouldn’t discuss open killings of black youths or pushing of Asians on streets by law enforcers at smallest pretexts or even light or no punishments accorded to enforcement officials if the other person happens to be minority but on an aspect of manifestation and presentation by the Western Media and its thought leaders.
Let’s see at how potential double standards mar the American thought process.
A similar attack like Charleston in any part of the world including India would have been projected as a state sponsored attacks on Minority or people of color but when it happens in USA it qualifies to be called a stray incident undertaken by a rather mindless person (which indeed is true to some extend).
Endless advices and even the much fraught travel advisories will be issued projecting the place in bad light. American media will churn out realms of pages on such incidents and making it appear as if the entire country and its government is sponsoring or supporting such incidents or propagating this as their ideologies, but the doyens of the press would lie silent on this connect if such a thing happens in USA.
The ruling parties in other countries will at once be branded as rightists and fanatics but when some pastor will burn a holy book or speak ill about some religion, color of people or when someone vandalises a place of worship, he is just practicing his right of speech and freedom.
Everyone will jump on the gun to give one’s expertise on the issue, including the academia.
And coming from it this will sound like the Holy Grail. Indeed Indian media recently carried with prominence a report by Yale University which stated that the current ruling party of India, the BJP gains significantly posts every communal incident. The news was widely cited and the Facebook walls flushed with it even within India. The key question is, “Are Yale planning a similar political studies about USA’s political gainers after similar such incident (between African American and Whites) or are they in a position of contemplating a similar study that who would gain politically after the recent riots due to killing of Freddy Grey in Baltimore? Or would Indian media even bother to give prominence to such a study?” The answer is NO.
The manifestations by the Western Media and its stakeholders at large epitomises the classic hymn (shlok) of Ramayana which stated “Par Updesh Kushal Bahutere” meaning that when it comes to the task of advising others, everyone is an expert.
Such an Ostrich like manifestation (who buries his head in sand) indeed trivialises the basic issue of minority and human rights. What’s important here is to state that no democratically elected government does or could afford to neglect any class of citizens.
While this is true, there do exist unaffiliated and stray elements/people in every society who live in a world of their own and who will do anything to push forward or use violence to manifest their ideas but branding these elements or affiliating them willfully with any particular ideology (political, social or religious) deflects the whole issue. The secularists across the world including those in India will go all out at propagating such elements as core of religious ideologies. But would lay silent when such happens in West.
As a matter of fact the killer of Charleston was a Christian who killed Christians but for him the differential factor was color of the skin. But what’s important is that for some it can be color, or religion while for others it could be sect or something. Such people don’t belong to anyone. But when people try to relate them to any political or social ideologies they are not just trivialising the matter rather also following double standards which in any case should be shun away with. What’s surely needed is that ‘looking in one’s closet before advising others’.
(The writer is USA based Geo-Political, Social and Economic Expert)