A third USA revolution for the wrong reason

A third USA revolution for the wrong reason

Frank Phipps

Thursday, January 21, 2021

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The United States of America has never really settled down as a nation of people, united, proud, and free. Independence did not create a country with human rights for all, neither did it allow for a safe and secure transition from not-so-long-ago colonial rule to a practising democracy. The recent insurgence on democracy there, using the authority of Government against itself in political cannibalism, has torn the county further apart in a failed revolution.

The violent revolution on January 6, 2021 disgraced the nation before the eyes of the world. Scaling the walls of the Capitol with murderous intent is what a devious plot unfolds over the counting of electoral votes. Ransacking the offices of the Congress, threatening to hang the vice-president and kidnap the Speaker of the House is not the way for a United States of America to survive. The added insult was abusing Bob Marley's One Love — Let's get together and feel alright — in mock reassurance of a relationship while violently undermining civil society.

The 2021 incursion with calls to “take back our country” by means of Trump-ed up allegations of “fraudulent election” was used to justify a pre-emptive strike against what may turn out from the 2020 elections two months earlier; and, importantly, to divert attention from a projected social revolution to correct centuries of disunity inherited from slavery.

The continuing assertion of white supremacy that denies equal rights and justice for black people haunts the USA like an albatross around the neck of the nation. This is the unfinished business for a third revolution to remind the nation that “black lives matter” and there will be no peace without justice.

The first revolution was the War of Independence from Britain (1775 to 1783) that did not resolve the issue of disunity resulting from slavery; instead, it entrenched white supremacy, ironically using the language for emancipation from enslavement. It took another 82 years, until the mid-nineteenth-century, for the second USA revolution to resolve the difficult and fractious relationship with black people and to prevent the new nation from falling apart.

The second revolution was the Civil War with the abolition of slavery. Dr James McPherson, professor emeritus of history at Princeton University, identified what he called 'A Defining Time in Our Nation's History': “The Civil War is the central event in America's historical consciousness. While the revolution of 1776-1783 created the United States, the Civil War of 1861-1865 determined what kind of nation it would be...whether this nation, born of a declaration that all men were created with an equal right to liberty, would continue to exist as the largest slave-holding country in the world.” One hundred and fifty-six years later, installing a Government of the people, by the people, for the people, remains an unfulfilled promise for black people.

The third revolution

Sporadic outbursts of violent racial conflict across the country leading to the 'War of George Floyd's Neck', foreshadowed a third revolution similar to the long and bloody wars of the two earlier revolutions so many died for in the struggle for human rights.

The ultimate objective was the unfinished business for a country where black, brown, red, yellow, and white people are born equal and endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The January 6 incursion was the third revolution, but carried out for the wrong reason to cause a setback for a country united against racism.

The special rapporteur's report to UN General Assembly August 21, 2019 addressed “contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and racial intolerance, and the human rights obligations of member states in relation to reparations for racial discrimination rooted in slavery and colonialism”. The human rights obligation has always been the challenge to the United States of America.

The January 2021 domestic terrorism struck the heart of governance two months after the November elections — a shameful and humiliating experience that would replace democracy by authoritarian leadership. Such a contrived form of governance that denies human rights for all the people deserves to be swiftly and comprehensively crushed, and the war of George Floyd's Neck brought to a successful conclusion.

Governments of present and future generations must afford protection to the fundamental rights and freedoms of all the people, without racial discrimination, xenophobia, or racial intolerance. This is the only way for a United States of America to retain the respect and the global standing of champions for democracy.

A Caribbean perspective

Caribbean countries have increasingly come under the hegemony of the USA, reducing the influence of European countries in the region. Jamaica and other Caribbean nations in Caricom share with the USA a common history of black people being forcibly brought from Africa to the colonies and sold to work on plantations in chattel slavery under British colonial rule. The demand for justice for the black people of the USA resonates with the people of Caricom, making the UN's recommendations for reparation and the end to racial discrimination matters of common concern. We wait to see how the USA will address these common concerns. If they look good, we can look better.

Frank Phipps, QC, is a member of Jamaica's National Council for Reparation. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or frank.phipps@yahoo.com.

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