Serious Threats to US’ National Cohesion and Internal Stability
Brigadier (Retd.) Dr. Ahsan ur Rahman Khan
The Threat Spectrum
Media news coverage often highlights the problems faced by US’ public due to the racist white supremacists, and severe health and economic consequences of Covid-19, etc. These media news coverages emerge and fade away. However, the spectrum of threats faced by US is too serious and needs priority attention by US’ public; because these threats are now threatening the very national cohesion and internal stability of US. These threats include:-
Destruction of US’ ‘social fabric’ due to ‘out of wedlock births’ resulting in continuing increase in violent crimes rate.
Heightening ‘racism’ resulting in seriously damaging national cohesion, as also increasing domestic terrorism
US’ racism–plagued handling of Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in anarchic loss of hope of US’ public in US’ political leadership
US’ inept handling of the pandemic–effected economy, resulting in the otherwise avoidable extreme economic hardships to the vast majority of US’ public
The approaching ‘November Election Trauma’
Destruction of US’ Social Fabric
Since this phenomenon is not much highlighted by media, and it may not be attracting priority attention of US’ public, it requires a bit of explanation – albeit brief.
This very unfortunate phenomenon has been recently (17 August 2020) highlighted by Stephen Flurry, the executive editor of Philadelphia Trumpet news magazine, in his article titled ‘Escape the Biggest Civilization Catastrophe’. In that article he has asserted: “America is collapsing. On our city streets, youths are terrorizing people, vandalizing buildings, burning police cars, looting stores and inflicting violence on those who oppose them. Even more shocking, many leaders permit, justify and encourage the destruction! This is what a nation on the verge of collapse looks like. You may think this crisis erupted after the death of George Floyd. The reality is, it has been building for decades. But it didn’t originate in the halls of government, the university or even the classroom. The chaos on our streets started in our homes. It came from the decades–long breakdown in our families”.
About that breakdown in US’ families, he has quoted an American political commentator Heather MacDonald, who explained “The anarchy that we have lived through with the looting and the rioting of the last month,” she continued, “has been preceded by a more slow-motion anarchy and breakdown, which is the breakdown of the family because our prisons today are filled almost exclusively with fatherless men” (a reference to the children ‘born out of wedlock’).
And, about this explanation Stephen Flurry has further elaborated “MacDonald is exactly right: This has been slow-motion breakdown of the family! Children unloved, untaught and undisciplined in the home have become unhappy, unenlightened, unrestrained adults. Uncontrolled tantrums in the home have become Molotov cocktails hurled at police. Children never taught to be grateful have become rioters who loot what they can and burn what they can’t,—–“. (1)
Stephen Flurry and Heather Mc Donald have factually just reminded about this grave threat to US, which even the US Presidents have been warning about since decades.
Even as far back as 1993 Joe Biden (former US Vice President and current US Presidential candidate), in his speech in US Senate as the then US Senator had cautioned about this grave threat – “In the speech, Biden described a “cadre of young people, tens of thousands of them, born out of wedlock, without parents, without supervision, without any structure, without any conscience developing because they literally … because they literally have not been socialized, they literally have not had an opportunity.” He said, “We should focus on them now” because “if we don’t, they will, or a portion of them, will become the predators 15 years from now“. (2)
And, “President Clinton, in a lengthy address to a Baptist group on the themes of values and personal responsibility, called the growing rate of out–of–wedlock births in the United States a “disaster””. (3). That warning given by the then US President Clinton is also available in the archives of Heritage Foundation. The archival record highlights the fact, “At the heart of America’s welfare crisis is illegitimacy. President Clinton, himself has recognized that welfare plays a strong role in promoting illegitimate births and single parent families. The President has warned the nation that family disintegration is a leading cause of crime in the U.S. And he has predicted that, unless dramatic changes occur half of all American children will soon be born out of wedlock”. (4)
Though all such warnings even by US’ Presidents appear to have gone unheeded, yet US’ heightening crimes rate certainly confirms the ongoing destruction of US’ social fabric due to the increasing ‘out of wedlock’ births. The German portal of statistics statista.org Research Department’s publication of 28 January 2020 mentions that the total number of violent crimes in US in 2018 were as high as 1.21 million. However it also highlights that the violent crimes in US include only “murder, rape and sexual assault, robbery, and assault”. And, it also cautions that since all crimes are not reported “it can generally be assumed that instances of crime are more prevalent than reported crime”. (5)
After the intentional murder of a black US’ citizen George Floyd by a US’ White policeman, in an extremely savage manner, for some time there was much hue and cry against racism in US. Protests are still continuing.
An article published recently by The Washington Post has mentioned, “Floyd’s killing, in the midst of the contravirus pandemic, which has disproportionately infected and killed black people, has exposed long standing racial inequalities in every aspect of American life and forced a deep reckoning across society” (6). However, the hope, if any, that this ugly upsurge of racism has “forced a deep reckoning across society”, is dashed when the problem of racism in US is understood in its complete perspective.
The basic information about racism in Western World (US and Europe), mostly referred as ‘White Supremacism’, and its prevalence in US, is provided by Britannica. It explains that:
White supremacy beliefs and ideas purport natural superiority of the white human races over other racial groups. In contemporary usage, the term white supremacist has been used to describe some groups which espouse ultranationalist, racist or fascist doctrines. White Supremacist groups often have relied on violence to achieve their goals. Despise demise of the old discriminatory laws White Supremacism has survived as a populist doctrine. In the United States the doctrine was especially associated with violent groups such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Indeed, by the second half of the 20th century, the Christian Identity movement was the dominant religious viewpoint of white supremacists in the United States. “In early 2016 the presidential campaign of the real–estate developer Donald J. Trump, the eventual Republican nominee, attracted significant support from white supremacists and so-called white nationalists, who largely disavowed racism but celebrated “white” identity and lamented the alleged erosion of white political and economic power and the decline of white culture in the face of nonwhite immigration and multiculturalism. Other Trump admirers included members of the “alt-right” (alternative right) movement, a loose association of relatively young white supremacists, white nationalists, extreme libertarians, and neo-Nazis”. (7)
As for the complex depth and gravity of US’ historically and deeply ingrained racism (White Supremacism), it has been amply highlighted by US’ own credible scholars.
It has been asserted in a publication of Washington DC based Think Tank Urban Institute, “Throughout this country’s history, the hallmarks of American democracy – opportunity, freedom, and prosperity – have been largely reserved for white people through the intentional exclusion and oppression of people of color. The deep racial and ethnic inequities that exist today are a direct result of structural racism: the historical and contemporary policies, practices, and norms that create and maintain white supremacy”. (8)
President of the well–known Brookings Institution has similarly asserted, “Unaddressed systemic racism is, in my mind, the most important issue in the United States today. And it has been so since before the founding of our nation. Slavery was America’s “original sin.” It was not solved by the framers of the U.S. Constitution, nor was it resolved by the horrendous conflict that was of the American Civil War. It simply changed its odious form and continued the generational enslavement of an entire strata of American society”. And, after explaining racism in US he has also lamented, “Truly, the very nature of our “national soul” is at stake”. (9) This remark by him that because of this menace of racism in US “the very nature of our “national soul” is at stake” is highly significant to take a note of.
In the case of US often the term ‘Jim Crow’ is used. Actually, “The term “Jim Crow” typically refers to repressive laws and customs once used to restrict black rights”. (10) And now, one of the devastating effects of racism in US under President Donald Trump has also been highlighted in the article published by The Guardian. Its author is Robert Bernard Reich who is an American economist, professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, author, and political commentator; had served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton; was Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997; and was a member of President Barack Obama’s economic transition advisory board. The very title of his article (“Trump stokes division with racism and rage – and the American oligarchy purrs”), and the opening assertion by him (“The president is the best thing that ever happened to the corporate elite, a distraction on the lines of the old Jim Crow”) (11) amply clarify the devastating division of US’ society and loss of national cohesion of US.
President Trump’s use of racism to earn electioneering support of White Supremacists is further adding fuel to the fire of racial division of US. US’ financial and business website Business Insider has also raised the alarm about it by asserting “Trump leaned on racism and xenophobia to garner support during his 2016 campaign, and he’s employing a similar approach as the US gets closer to Election Day”. (12)
This upsurge of racism is also causing rise in the hate and other violent crimes in US; thereby further fueling division of US society and creating internal de–stability. An important aspect to be noted is that the crimes data published by US’ agencies like FBI generally represents much less number of crimes because of the methods of data collection of these agencies. The afore-mentioned German portal of statistics staista.org has mentioned this fact that “total number of violent crimes in US in 2018 were as high as 1.21 million”; and that “it can generally be assumed that instances of crime are more prevalent than reported crime”. (13) Same fact has also been reported by the US’ National Public Radio on 13 September 2019. The title of the report is ‘There’s A Continued Uptick In Violent Crime, According To Federal Survey ’. It mentions that the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Justice Department (BJS) manages the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) by going to about 150,000 households each year asking people if they’ve been victims of crimes — even if they didn’t report them to police. According to the report the 2018 NCVS survey “showed that the rate at which those surveyed said they had been raped or sexually assaulted nearly doubled from 2017 to 2018”. The report also quoted an official of BJS that “We have found consistently that about half or less than half of crimes are actually reported to police, so the FBI are getting different numbers than we are”. (14)
Racism-Plagued Handling of Covid-19 Pandemic
Details of the racism–plagued handling of Covid-19 pandemic by US’ government are generally known. However, following extracts of the published reports and articles also clearly show the intentional heinousity of US’ government and ruling elite in that manner of handling the pandemic; causing massive Covid-19 illness and deaths of non–White Americans.
Ozcan Hidir, a faculty member at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, has lamented in his article “it is an America where violence, inequality, exploitation, Christian-Evangelist fundamentalism are at the forefront. The novel coronavirus or Covid-19 process has served as a litmus test, revealing both faces of the US, as it is a known fact that two-thirds of the deaths resulting from the pandemic belong to “vulnerable groups”, meaning Blacks, Latin American Hispanic, and immigrant people”. (15)
World Economic Forum in its publication ‘A brief history of racism in healthcare’ has asserted: “In the US, UK and elsewhere, COVID-19 is hitting Black and other ethnic minority groups hardest – creating a renewed focus on racism in healthcare. In the 19th century, Black people were seen as ‘racially different’, which was used to justify discrimination. In the 20th century, medical racism became more ‘systemic’, for example with Black people not informed of the true nature of some experiments. Today, medical algorithms are accused of racism and systemic housing inequalities continue to create bad health outcomes. If you’re Black or Latino in the US, you’re almost twice as likely to die from Covid-19”. (16)
The peer–reviewed journal Health Affairs, which was described as “the bible of health policy” by The Washington Post, has highlighted “The devastating impact of COVID-19 is apparent, with nearly three million confirmed cases and more than 131,000 deaths in the US. Among those affected, communities of color bear the brunt of the pandemic. Health disparities in the COVID-19 crisis call attention to long-standing inequities that pervade the health care system and society at large”. (17).
Human Rights Watch in its Testimony to US House of Representatives has asserted, “The United States government should take bold steps to end human rights violations and structural racism driving racial disparities in Covid-19 and spurring mass protests across the country”, ——– “Human Rights Watch urged the US government to address the underlying factors driving racial disparities in Covid-19 illness and death rates. These include the US failure to fully protect the human rights of black and brown people as well as government policies that have directly contributed to racial disparities in health, housing, criminal law, and other areas”. “All levels of government in the US are failing to protect black and brown people’s basic rights, in ways that exacerbate their vulnerability to Covid-19,”————-. (18)
All these facts, and the consequently spreading violent protests, clearly show the already emerged threat to US’ national cohesion; and more dangerously the increasing anarchic loss of hope of US’ public in US’ political leadership.
Inept Handling of the Pandemic-effected Economy
Almost all countries in the world have suffered serious adverse economic effects due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the colossal adverse effects suffered by US because of this pandemic are due to US’ government’s complete lack of foresight and intellectual insight in dexterously applying the healthcare and economic policies in a well coordinated manner.
That aspect was brought to fore by the 3rd June 2020 article of Washington DC-based independent nonpartisan policy institute Center for American Progress. Title of this lengthy article is ‘5 Ways the Trump Administration’s Policy Failures Compounded the Coronavirus-Induced Economic Crisis’. Very brief extracts of those five ways of US’ policy failures resulting in the contravirus–induced economic crisis as highlighted in this article, are:
“A botched public health response“
“The Trump administration failed to take the coronavirus outbreak seriously. In late February, while other high-income countries were ramping up testing and developing tracing procedures, President Donald Trump stated that “the Coronavirus [was] very much under control”.”——–“ Now, nearly three months since President Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency, his push to reopen the economy will unfortunately prove fruitless.”
“A failure to help workers retain their jobs“
“Another stark contrast between the United States and its international, high-income peers stems from the ways in which this administration has failed to maintain an adequate connection between workers and their employers. Since the beginning of March, the United States has seen 23 percent of its February labor force—37.6 million workers in total—apply for unemployment insurance.”
“Three years of slashing safety nets“
“The failures of the Trump administration’s approach did not begin when the pandemic started. Each of the administration’s four budget proposals has recommended slashing funding for the Center for Disease Control (CDC).”———–“Since Trump assumed the office of the presidency, he and his administration have made it clear that one of their primary policy goals consists of dismantling safety nets and laws meant to protect workers.”
“A failure to prevent layoffs of state and local workers“
“In the weeks following the coronavirus outbreak, it became clear to state governments that they would have to increase spending to unanticipated levels. Yet a lack of aid from the federal government forced states and localities, who have much stricter budget requirements than the federal government, to cut payrolls for more than 1 million employees,”————-. “In contrast, the governments of other countries have acted swiftly in supplying cash-strapped localities with much-needed aid.”
“A failure to help small businesses”
“The Paycheck Protection Program—a provision in the CARES Act intended to help employers keep operations running despite revenue shortfalls—was plagued by reports of large, publicly traded companies receiving massive sums while small businesses were left without help. A May report released by the Small Business Administration’s inspector general found that the Trump administration’s implementation left out minority-owned, woman-owned, and rural businesses.” (19)
These findings of the Center for American progress institute about the five ways of US’ policy failures appear credible, when compared with the ground realities in US and the policy measures taken by US’ government since the beginning of the pandemic.
And, the gravity of the devastating economic crisis created in US because of those myopic policies of US’ government can be gauged from the 31st July 2020 publication of the World Economic Forum. Vey brief extracts of that publication are:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the biggest blow to the US economy since the Great Depression”. “GDP fell at a 32.9% annualized rate, the deepest decline since records began back in 1947. “30.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment checks in the week ending July 11”.———“More than five years of growth have been wiped out”.————“This, together with the sky-rocketing coronavirus infections is keeping layoffs elevated. ——–“Tens of millions of workers have lost their jobs over the past few months and remain unemployed,”—–. (20)
The Approaching ‘November Election Trauma’
The foregoing elaboration of US’ social ills, further deteriorated by short–sighted governmental policies, makes it abundantly clear that the approaching November 2020 US’ presidential election is going to be held in highly tense atmosphere plagued by the marked racial division of US’ society, confrontation between ‘Whites’ and ‘non-Whites’, and much decreased trust of public in national leadership and state organs.
Currently, media coverage is highlighting that the Democrat candidate Joe Biden is now enjoying some lead in US’ public’s approval rating, as shown by poll surveys – i.e. Joe Biden 52% vs. Donald Trump 42%. (21) However, in yet another report even this lead has shown signs of faltering when, after President Donald Trump’s handling of Republican National Convention, Joe Biden’s rating slided from 52% to 50%, and Donald Trump’s rating increased from 42% to 44%. (22)
Thus in actual fact, this factor alone, of Joe Biden’s current lead, cannot be relied upon for carefully assessing the probable election result. For that purpose, therefore, a much deeper understanding of the ‘election–winning potential’ of Joe Biden and Donald Trump is required.
While assessing the ‘election–winning potential’ of Joe Biden, it has to be kept in mind that he is neither a political ideologue, nor has he a following of those who are adherents of religious or racial/extremist ideology. His election campaigning is based mainly upon ‘election promises’; and his popularity rating has gone past Donald Trump mostly due to US’ public’s frustration over President Donald Trump’s drastically inept handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the other hand, Donald Trump has staunch support of the adherents of religious and racial/extremist ideologies. Donald Trump is an Evangelical Protestant, and Evangelical Protestants constitute about a quarter of US’ population and are a vibrant voting bloc. Besides the Evangelical Protestants this religious support base of Donald Trump also includes the Christian Zionists. The Conservatives too generally favour Donald Trump because (as highlighted by reports) he is “pro-life on abortion, sympathetic to religious liberty, and now with a proven track record of nominating and securing the confirmation of a large number of conservative judges”;—— “Judges have been a major Trump selling point. He and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell celebrated the confirmation of 200 of them in June”; and—– “The president has also been staunchly supportive of Israel”—— “a decision he frankly acknowledged was in part due to evangelical influence”. (23)
The racial/extremist groups who support Donald Trump are White Supremacist, White Nationalist, Alt Right, Extreme Libertarian, Neo-Nazi, and KU Klux Klan (KKK), etc. Many of these groups have often relied on violence to achieve their goals.
Though Donald Trump does not publicly accept to be racist/extremist, in actuality his policies and exhortations amply show that he is racist extremist. And now he has also intensified his efforts to garner election support of the racists/extremists by tweeting and re–tweeting racist/extremist messages. For example “On Sunday, June 28th, President Donald Trump retweeted a video of a couple in a golf cart decorated with Trump signs with the driver yelling “white power” twice to protesters while he raised his fist. That phrase and raised fist are attributed to white supremacists as a form of hate speech”. (24)
The dreadful aspect of this reality is that such racist/extremist activities of Donald Trump are adding fuel to fire of the already entrenched and spreading racist/extremist menace in US. The gravity of this threat can be grasped by the fact that – “White supremacist groups have infiltrated US law enforcement agencies in every region of the country over the last two decades, according to a new report about the ties between police and far–right vigilante groups”. (25)
Besides US’ police, this menace has also found its place in US’ military, as brought forth in an online survey of active duty readers of US’ Military Times which highlighted, “More than one-third of all active-duty troops and more than half of minority service members say they have personally witnessed examples of white nationalism or ideological–driven racism within the ranks in recent months”,—. (26)
Further alarming is the fact that this menace is also spreading throughout US, as mentioned by US’ State Department, “Racially and ethnically motivated terrorism—especially from white supremacists—is “on the rise and spreading geographically,” the U.S. State Department said in a new report, as white terrorist threats continue to come to light across the United States”. (27)
To add to this tally of the grave problems, to be faced by US’ public during November election, is the oft–published news that Donald Trump and his party are more likely to rig the election.
That bad news certainly deserves attention when made public by David Thorne, US’ own former ambassador to Italy, whose article has been published in Italy’s daily newspaper LA REPUBLICA of 22 August 2020 republished in European Press Review (Eurotopics). He warned, “Trump’s election campaign will be anything but fair precisely because Biden stands a good chance of winning”, —–. “Let’s be prepared for Trump to lash out and do his best to discredit Biden at the Republican National Convention. … Let’s be prepared for debates in which the outgoing president pulls out all the stops to weaken Biden. … A lot could still go wrong. Starting with election rigging. It seems that the Republican president and his party have come to the conclusion that the only chance of victory is to intervene in the electoral process in a variety of ways. For example, the appointment of a party friend [Louis DeJoy] as Postmaster General in order to sabotage mail-in voting”. (28)
Besides that there are other foreseen problems too. Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School in its publication titled ‘How Trump Could Subvert the Election’, has cautioned, “By contrast, the voter suppression threat is clear and growing. Trump and his allies are devoting unprecedented resources to efforts to obstruct voting”,—-. (29)
All these aforementioned realities are clearly the harbingers of the grave threats in the making for US. The process of racial division of US society has already commenced. Confrontations of US’ Whites and non–Whites are not only growing, these are also becoming bloody. US’ police has many a times taken brutal actions against non–White protestors, destroying US’ public’s trust in State organs. US’ President Donald Trump openly takes side with the White supremacist and other extremist groups who are his supporters, arrogantly defying rule of law. Hopes for a fair presidential election in November are fading, adding to the already mounting anxiety of US’ public.
In all probability the thus developing rather anarchic environment, and increasing loss of US’ public trust in State organs, are going to worsen further during the period November2020–January 2021. All these indicators therefore certainly bode ill for US State and US’ public – in the forms of irreparable loss of US’ national cohesion and chaotic internal de–stability; with a consequential major loss of US’ global–power weightage.
(5). https://www.statista.com/topics/1750/violent-crime-in-the-us/ (Hereinafter cited as German Portal of statistics statista.org report)
(13). German Portal of statistics statista.org report. op.cit.
(28).https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/FMfcgxwJXVPxdztBQvRbpWwHRdwKZlrW Now available in Webcatche following link:- https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:wKyI03NEJQwJ:https://www.eurotopics.net/en/246240/how-divisive-will-the-us-election-campaign-be+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=pk (Third in the list)