Opinion: The ugly face of America’s not-so-subtle biases

by Abiola Akintunde

The mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando has revealed the subtle biases in the language that public officials use to define human right abuse or terror and who is eligible to perpetrate it. One thing is clear about American politics in light of the massacre in Orlando: Muslims who commit mass acts of violence are terrorists, white people who do the same are not; and countries favoured by United States of America (USA) who abused human rights are not human rights abusers while countries not favoured by USA are abusers guilty or not.

It was a matter of hours on Sunday before local authorities and national politicians began labeling Omar Mateen, the gunman, an Islamic terrorist even before law enforcement officials began telling reporters that Mateen had pledged allegiance to ISIS during the attack. Why? Because his Muslim name and Afghan ethnicity were enough to make the call.

Politicians such as Sen. Marco Rubio, condemned it as “heartbreaking act of terrorism”; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee warned liberals of worse to come if they do not realize the dangers of “radical Islam”; Sen. Ted Cruz stated “From 9/11 to the Boston Marathon, from Fort Hood to Chattanooga, from San Bernardino to last night’s horrific attack in Orlando, radical Islamic terrorism has declared jihad on America.”

However, last year, few politicians used the word “terrorist” to describe Dylann Roof, who murdered nine people in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina. Sen. Marco Rubio’s response was that “he was saddened by the news from Charleston.” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina described Roof as “one of these whacked-out kids,”; Gov. Nikki Haley expressed bafflement as to his motivation and Sen. Ted Cruz’s statement the next day did not mention terror.

The politicians never reversed their reaction to Roof’s act of terrorism despite being reported that Roof had expressed hatred for black people, and was photographed burning an American flag and proudly holding a Confederate one. This reveals that the hypocrisy of the American political establishment is second to none. Politicians are quick to comment in order to hide the role racism play in America’s domestic violence. Comments that seems to protect a particular colour and demonise other colours.

This hypocrisy is not limited to American domestic politics, it remains one of the most valuable asset of White House and State Department in international politics, it is the very asset in play when USA wants to extend its sphere of influence. When White House accused Syria of human rights violations but did not see Saudi Arabia as human right violator, the lens which White House used was the lens of hypocrisy.

It was double standard when USA saw Russia’s intervention in Syria on invitation of Damascus as aggression and did not see Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen on invitation of deposed Al Hadi as aggression on Yemeni people who are dying from both American and British weapons supplied to Saudi Arabia. Sometimes I wonder to which people Russia is aggressive in Syria? Syrians or terrorists sponsored by White House proxies? This is nothing but hypocrisy.

When North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO) started expanding eastward, absorbing former United Soviet Socialist Republic(USSR) constituents, it was never an aggression but when Russia recognized Crimea’s referendum and Crimea became a constituent of the Russian Federation, it was aggression against NATO allies. When America was weaponising the Baltic States and was holding drills close to Russian borders, it was not aggression but when Russia holds drills, Russia is flexing muscle against her weak neighbors who are holding drills and arming themselves to the teeth.

If this is not hypocrisy, I do not know what will qualify as hypocrisy. It is the same Americans that hold annual drills with South Korea, yet seeks punishment for North Korea who is developing her nuclear capacity as a deterrence to any surprise attack that might come from her neighbor to the South and her allied super power. It is known that the double standard and hypocritic approach of America political establishment to domestic and international issues can not be rivaled.


Abiola Akintunde is a political commentator based in Nigeria. He tweets at @AAbiolat
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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