The US is beacon for tolerance and the rule of law, but it is also increasingly facing scrutiny as to whether the reality lives up to the rhetoric. Let’s be clear: few other countries, despotic to western democracies can throw rocks at the images of US tolerance, from Russia or China to the stepped-up xenophobia of Western Europe and Australia. ISIS is not even tolerant to other Muslims. Ethnic cleansing is being committed against minorities from Myanmar to the Horn of Africa, (do not forget Ogaden). Nonetheless, it is damaging to the needed US leadership in promoting more inclusive societies and governments globally when our American reflection is shattered by bullets of hate.
This is not just limited to the acts of isolated individuals, from the #CharlestonShooting targeting African Americans at a Bible study in a church, to the attack upon a Sikh temple in Wisconsin to the murder of Muslim-American students in a North Carolina town. The US has been cited for the “institutionalized discrimination” in the wake of the now evident spate of shootings by police, from Ferguson to Cleveland to Staten Island. (Read: “Does the UN See US ‘Institutionalized Discrimination in the Wake of Ferguson?”)
America and its people should not mind being held to a higher standard, because we claim that we are built on a foundation of higher principles of enlightenment, rather than ethnic, religious or other identity. Marriage of state and church or discriminatory government was rejected by America’s Founding Fathers as well as the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, despite efforts by some to fuse identity and the US Constitution into exclusionary rule. That does not mean US history is free of fault, from the treatment of Native Americans to the enslavement of African Americans. Racism has deeper and more recent roots than some are comfortable to admit. (Read: “Legacy of Police on Black Violence Pre & Post ‘Selma Bloody Sunday’?”)
The UN Secretary General has condemned the “apparently racially motivated killings.” Rather than question his credentials, we Americans should seek to expose and remedy the roots of bigotry that still prevail within institutions and may provide some individuals with the illusion or perhaps unfortunate reality that some may sympathize with their act of hate and terror because it targets “the other.” Both ISIS and Dylann Roof, the alleged Charleston shooter, have projected their hate over social media, in the apparent belief that it will attract sympathy or perhaps others to act in same manner. (Read: “Is God More Insulted by Cartoons or Those Who Kill In God’s Name?“)
As Americans we owe it to our society to counter hateful bigotry within our society, and when necessary be straight with ourselves about what still ails. As for the family of nations represented by the UN, keep in mind that the globe can benefit from the true model of diversity and higher ideals that the US represents, and part of that is self-reflection.
Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey