Kenosha shooting breaks another myth about American freedom
Published: Aug 25, 2020 10:38 PM

Demonstrators march through the city during a protest in New York on Monday against the shooting of Jacob Blake. Photo: AFP

With the continuing outrage and protests against police brutality and racism in the US remaining unaddressed, new unrest has been sparked in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after police shot a black man in the back seven times as his three sons watched.

The US places itself on a high moral ground and claims to be the beacon to all nations and people - a country that promises a better life, freedom and equality.

Many Chinese people used to buy into these notions. But with protests constantly triggered by police brutality against the black people, notably the latest shooting of Jacob Blake and the tragic death of another African American, George Floyd, in May, the various US myths have been broken, which refreshed the Chinese people's understanding of this beacon of freedom. 

"In the beacon of America, one is born freely, while dies randomly," a Chinese netizen said.

One of the broken US myths Chinese netizens found is an oft-repeated claim that civilian gun ownership is one way to keep tyranny at bay. This myth indulges in individual rights which can counter the abuse of power by the government. But the real situation is clear: The US government does not care about the rights of American individuals, and the individuals can do nothing to the government when their rights are infringed upon.

Facts now prove that even when the American public, including black people, is allowed to own guns, this does not prevent those in power from exercising tyranny and brutality against them. When protests flared over Floyd's death, US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to threaten the use of military force against protesters. Republican senator Tom Cotton also said on Twitter that "the 10th Mountain, 82nd Airborne, 1st Cav, 3rd Infantry - whatever it takes" could be deployed to restore order.

More Chinese people have come to realize that Americans haven't overthrown any "tyranny," but many have died of gun violence. The US has all the Western democratic tools and procedures, but none has played its role in promoting social equality. The theoretical advantages of the US democratic system have not played out. Rather, the system's weaknesses have been fully exposed.

A poll released by the Eurasia Group Foundation in April found that Chinese attitudes toward the US political system and democracy are becoming more negative. In the past, some Chinese held blind worship of the US, and believed that the great strength of the US was connected to its system. But seeing the US' poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the raging anti-racism protests, they have been clearly aware of the flaws in the US system. It is both absurd and ironic when US politicians play the card of human rights against countries like China, while stamping on the wounds of ethnic minorities. It is doubtful US political forces can retain their touted ideals in an ever polarized political atmosphere, and serve the interests of their people.