In one of those frequent ironies that dot the world landscape today we can only be struck by these contrasting events: as America's black population becomes increasingly organized and determined to confront police brutality toward its members, Europe's leaders mourn the deaths of 1700 African migrants trying to reach its shores via the Mediterranean, the South African government chastizes its people for targeting immigrants and on the hundredth anniversary of the slaughter of 1.5 million Christian Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, Turkish President Erdogan lashes out at the Pope for calling it the first genocide of the twentieth century.[tag]
What do these strikingly different attitudes tell us about attitudes toward Otherness upon which political and religious systems rest? While recently revealed American police reports refer to black demonstrators as 'enemy forces' and 'adversaries', mirroring not only recent police militarization but a heritage in which minorities are fair game, Europe's politicians, though determined to limit African immigration, are forced by a heritage that goes from the French Revolution to the UN Declaration on Human Rights to deplore mass drownings and seek ways to avoid them.
This stark difference underlies the growing divide between Washington and those it took for granted as allies for three quarters of a century, mainly the Europeans. But I also see a difference between mainstream America and the black majority population of South Africa that after only a few decades of rule, is already telling its less tolerant members that the bible says 'Love they neighbor' and 'God loves us all', while Australians have set up a grass roots campaign condemning the concentration camps their government has set up for illegal immigrants from Asia.
Clearly, the US is behind on this one, but our focus on elections has little chance of remedying attitudes that began with the first slaughter of Indians.
P.S. France 24 is airing an interesting debate on the Mediterranean migrant problem right now, to be repeated at 6 pm and again at 9 pm est.