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Discrimination exposes US' sordid human rights record

China Daily | Updated: 2021-07-31 08:52

Editor's note: Racial and religious discrimination is rampant in the US, but the administration uses myriad ploys to cover it up. Four experts share their views on the issue with China Daily.

US invasion has devastated Iraq

The United States bypassed the United Nations to invade Iraq in 2003 and topple the Saddam Hussein government. The Iraq War, the Gulf War (1990-91) and the 1990-2004 sanctions turned Iraq from a regional power into a failed state with a devastated economy.

In 1990, before the US invaded Iraq, the country's per capita GDP was $7,070. According to Statista, the Iraq War has caused 208,482 civilian deaths, and Brown University's Costs of War Project found that as of 2020, 9.2 million Iraqis had been internally displaced or forced to flee Iraq as refugees.

The destruction of infrastructure facilities during the war robbed millions of Iraqi people of essential public services such as electricity and water supply, and healthcare. The war also tore the country's social fabric, and robbed the Iraqi people of their national identity and divided them into religious sects and ethnic groups with rising dissension and enmity.

And the rampant corruption that followed the US-led invasion compromised public security. In fact, Iraqi President Barham Salih said, while announcing a draft bill to combat corruption recently, that Iraq had lost about $150 billion to corruption since 2003.

The US' loot of Iraqi cultural relics and archival materials dealt a deadly blow to Iraqi culture. The rising Sunni-Shia conflicts and geopolitical frictions have caused Iraq's economic and cultural decline, and ironically, after the US-led invasion, terrorism has spread beyond the Middle East as anti-US sentiments have grown among Muslims around the world.

The damage the US war has caused to Iraq and beyond is long term. So all peace-loving people should oppose the US' hegemony.

Zhu Quangang, an associate research fellow at the Institute of West Asian and African Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

American Muslims face structural discrimination

Since the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Muslims in the US have been facing rising discrimination, not least because of the implementation of new laws, including previous US president Donald Trump's Executive Order 13769.

American Muslims also face discrimination in the legal field. An Institute for Social Policy and Understanding report said, "a significantly higher percentage of Muslim-perceived perpetrators of violent plots (83 percent) were prosecuted with severe legal charges than those not perceived to be Muslim (17 percent)", and "terrorism-related charges can carry optional boosts to sentences for prosecutors to pursue if they argue a case was terrorism, which happens to 7 of 12 Muslim-perceived cases compared with 3 of 12 non-Muslim-perceived cases."

Besides, the media has played a key role in spreading Islamophobia. The ISPU report also said, "analysis of The New York Times and The Washington Post archives showed that in cases of violent ideological plots that were not carried out, Muslim-perceived perpetrators received an average of 770 percent more media coverage than non-Muslim-perceived perpetrators".

Besides, doubts over Muslims' patriotism have increased in the US. According to the ISPU's American Muslim Poll 2020 last year, 60 percent of American Muslims said they had experienced religious discrimination. Over "the past five years, Muslim experiences with religious discrimination have remained steady, ranging from 60 percent to 62 percent". And anti-Islamic groups have spread Islamophobia among the academia, social media, religious leaders, and grassroots groups and politicians.

Moreover, the number of Muslim refugees allowed into the US dropped to a historical low during Trump's presidency-for example, the number of Syrian refugees allowed to enter the US declined from 12,587 in 2016 to 62 in 2018. Overall, the number of Muslim refugees allowed into the US fell by about 90 percent in 2017-18.

Movements such as "Black Lives Matter" and anti-Asian discrimination reflect the growing racial frictions in the US. And though US President Joe Biden may be making efforts to reverse many of Trump's policies, racial discrimination won't end in the US unless the country undergoes a thorough socio-racial transformation.

Xu Jianying, a research fellow at the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies, CASS; and Yun Wenjie, a lecturer at the China Center for Special Economic Zone Research, Shenzhen University

Racism is the original sin in US' construction

The number of black and Hispanic people who have died of COVID-19 in the US is three times higher than white people. Yet the vaccination rate among black and Hispanic people is half that among white people. The pandemic and killing of George Floyd have further exposed the racial divide in the US.

As for upward social mobility, minority community members can rise to become part of the so-called US elite only if they agree with the Anglo-Protestant culture, said political scientist Samuel Huntington, as the US needs a cultural core to help maintain a "coherent nation". Racism and "civilizational" supremacy also influence the US' foreign policy. To maintain its global leadership, the US has formed cliques based on race, religion, culture and "civilization differences". And some politicians are using these "civilization differences" to build an anti-China alliance.

The US is a society of immigrants. But the discriminatory immigration laws have increased the identity crisis of the new immigrants, especially religious minorities.

Racism will continue in the US, because even if the so-called political correctness narrative helps sugar coat the racial problem, the US can hardly root out racial bias from its institutions. It will take the sustained efforts of US citizens to end racial discrimination in the country.

Wang Congyue, associate research fellow at the Institute of American Studies, CASS

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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