The riots that continued for over a week in dozens of US cities are finally subsiding, but there are still calls for continued protests and mobilisation. This all serves Joe Biden — even if only temporarily — who tweeted 5 June: “Folks, we have secured the 1,991 delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination. I’m going to spend every day fighting to earn your vote so that, together, we can win the battle for the soul of the nation.” Biden and his Democratic Party want the protests on the streets over the murder of George Floyd to continue, and news of protests in Europe sympathetic to Biden and protesting racism in the US, and Trump’s alleged racism, to remain a top story in the global media for weeks to come.
Biden will mobilise his weapons and his campaign has already announced he will be meeting with Floyd’s family in order to win the most African American votes come November. Biden said: “It was an honour to compete alongside one of the most talented groups of candidates the Democratic Party has ever fielded, and I am proud to say that we are going into this general election a united party.” He concluded by doubling down on his attack on President Donald Trump, urging Americans to close ranks and vote him out of office in November. Biden tweeted: “We’re just 150 days out from Election Day, and the stakes have never been higher. We have to defeat Donald Trump, and once we do, we won’t just rebuild this country — we’ll transform it. Together.”
Trump understands how difficult it will be to run against Biden. The economy is in tatters, anti-racism protests are embarrassing for him, most of the media opposes him and distorts facts to influence the public. For example, Trump is accused by Twitter, and its traditional media cohorts, of inciting violence against protesters when he tweeted: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” The tweet was interpreted as a threat to protesters, when in reality it speaks to the police’s right to open fire at those taking advantage of protests to loot and vandalise public and private property.
The media opposed to Trump, ignores statements by the US Attorney General William Barr, who in an interview with CBS News’s Face the Nation on Sunday defended the use of force to disperse protesters in Washington DC, saying they were “not peaceful” and had injured hundreds of law enforcement officers the previous two nights. The trend of distorting facts and reaching unsubstantiated conclusions, includes The New York Times reporting on 6 June that, “there have been over 400 deaths in custody since 1991, and not a single police officer has been convicted.”
These statistics target the police, rather than Trump, but they can be used against him to imply he did not do enough to change an inherent system, even if he was not responsible for its existence. Even that which are accused of using excessive, sometimes unnecessary, force against citizens is targeted in the biased media controlled by the left and pro-Democrats, by hiding facts that would lighten the impact of some incidents carried out by police. For example, the fact that the US is among very few in the world where most states allow individuals to purchase and carry guns in public places, and accordingly the lives of policemen are at greater risk than their peers in Europe where people are not allowed to own or carry weapons except under strict conditions. Since US laws allow citizens to easily purchase weapons, they also allow police officers to protect themselves from being shot. Some people use their personal weapons recklessly, which endangers the lives of others, whether civilians or police. At the same time, there are police officers who are unstable, either for psychological or racist reasons, and who use their weapons recklessly and illegally.
Since we cannot condemn every citizen who carries a weapon because one of them used their weapon inappropriately, we cannot blame and demonise all of the police force because of one officer’s crime. Rejecting collective punishment, a principle so championed by human rights groups, cannot be piecemeal. It must be respected, whether we’re talking about political groups or state institutions where thousands from diverse backgrounds, political and social orientations work.
The hypocrisy of groups calling for protests or rioting while demanding the protection of rights of individuals or groups, as long as they do not use violence, is the best weapon for Trump to use against his foes. However, he cannot be sure to win this battle due to hostile traditional and social media. Trump also has a good opportunity to vanquish claims by his rival Biden that he will unite the Democratic Party, since internal elections to choose Democratic candidates for the Senate in the autumn reveal how the party’s left-wing has been marginalised, and most of that camp’s candidates lost recent primary elections. This is explained in a report published in Politico titled “Progressives steamrolled across the Senate map,” which revealed the anger of the left and progressives within the party after most of their candidates lost.
It would also benefit Trump’s campaign to clarify to the public that groups organising protests in Europe against racism in the US, such as the European Network for Anti-Racism (ENAR), are linked to terrorist groups belonging to political Islam in Europe and the Muslim Brotherhood — which is listed as a terrorist group by many countries, especially in the Arab world. It is not logical that this group protests racism while its members include radical Islamist groups that overtly support terrorism and openly call for racism based on religion and sect.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 11 June, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly