Ugly home truths a tragic sight

Editorial | Mary Ma 1 Jun 2020

To the disappointment of Donald Trump, his major announcement on sanctions against Beijing and Hong Kong failed to create a media impact at home due to riots raging across the US after the horrendous killing of African American George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.

The timing was bad for Trump, but it provided Beijing an opportunity to hit back with a state and social media outlash.

The US president should not complain after Xinhua News Agency said in a tit-for-tat article that the violence in Minneapolis and other American cities was "Pelosi's beautiful landscape."

That was in reference to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comparison of Hong Kong's anti-government protests to a "beautiful sight to behold."

I find such comparisons uncomfortable since I've seen only tragedy in both situations. There is nothing to glorify. With people injured and killed, properties damaged and police resorting to brutal force, there is absolutely nothing in either case to celebrate.

Pelosi made a mistake in calling Hong Kong protests a "beautiful sight," but her mistake hardly justified Xinhua extolling the fire and fury in the US a "beautiful landscape."

The agency's teasing of the US during these dark days should not be applauded.

Minnesota governor Tim Walz blamed organized groups from outside the city for promoting the unrest, while the mayor of state capital Saint Paul confirmed that not everybody arrested was a local resident. That is reminiscent of Beijing blaming external forces for instigating the Hong Kong protests.

While the latter was arguably denied by most countries - except for those close to Beijing - should putting the blame on non-Minneapolis residents be viewed with the same standards?

The violence that has spread like wildfire following Floyd's death has more to do with the deep racial divide in American society.

So many years after the civil war, human rights advocates are still campaigning for the rights of African Americans today.

Wealth disparity is serious. Although scientists have yet to properly explain why African Americans have suffered a higher mortality rate in the Covid-19 pandemic, I wonder if this could be due to a social factor that African Americans are among the poorest. Many are not covered by medical insurance because they cannot afford to pay for it. I am concerned that the riots could advance a second pandemic spike sooner than thought.

Wealth disparity has been a chronic social ill in the US. While there had been no reports of looting during the civil unrest here in the SAR, it occurred in Minneapolis soon after anti-police protests became violent.

Trump's tweet that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" probably stated the obvious as most American families have a gun to protect themselves and their properties. But the tweet could also be read as readily encouraging white supremacists to resort to firearms.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is leading Trump by 10 percentage points in the race for the White House.

While domestic issues had always been the focal point of presidential elections in the past, the riots and Trump's poor handling of the pandemic could serve as a wake-up call for voters, upsetting Trump's bid to make China the focus of the election.

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