OPINION / OBSERVER
Ethnic minorities suffer from tyranny of US electoral system
Published: Nov 23, 2021 10:18 PM
A visitor attends the free public art exhibit Justice for George: Messages from the People at Phelps Field Park near George Floyd Memorial Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the US on Saturday. Photo: AFP

A visitor attends the free public art exhibit Justice for George: Messages from the People at Phelps Field Park near George Floyd Memorial Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the US on Saturday. Photo: AFP

"Tyranny" is a word that has always been used by US politicians to attack their so-called strategic competitors and countries with different ideologies. However, has Washington even realized that what it boasts as a "democratic electoral system" has long been plundering the legitimate rights of US ethnic minorities, forming a tyranny of the majority?

"It is almost a tyranny of the majority where the minority right to vote is being denied in many areas, in parts of the country," United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues Fernand de Varennes said on Monday after his 15-day trip to the US. He also called for a "New Deal" in the US to overhaul legislation.

For a long time, ethnic minorities in the US have been threatened by discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes, and now even their basic rights cannot be guaranteed. Such tyranny toward ethnic minorities is the "original sin" of the US system.

In US history, to prevent ethnic minorities from voting, some states resorted to various tricks including setting up poll taxes and literacy tests in the 1890s. The US had been openly suppressing ethnic minorities' right to vote until the 1965 Voting Rights Act prohibited states from using such methods to exclude minorities from voting, taking decades for the US ethnic minorities to obtain the right of "one person, one vote." 

"Although the US has made some adjustments, it has also used many cunning tricks to ensure white supremacy in US politics," Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.

After decades, US ethnic minorities are still suffering from such tyranny. For example, Texas in October lowered the number of districts where minorities comprise a majority, despite the growth of the non-white population. 

De Varennes said on Monday that Texas would harm minorities by diluting their political power and would result in "gerrymandering." The legitimate rights of US ethnic minority groups have become victims of the two US political parties' conflicts of interests.

It is doubtful whether the US electoral system can still represent freedom and justice. This being the case, the status quo of ethnic minorities' voting rights is even worse. "The US' care for minorities is far from enough, whether socially or legally. For minorities, this is a type of plunder and tyranny," Li said.

Although de Varennes called for a "New Deal," it is still very hard for the US, which is struggling to deal with the COVID-19 epidemic and economic hardships, to have the motivation and ability to reform. 

Even with corresponding measures, it is difficult to eliminate the discrimination against ethnic minorities under the US' systemic racism.

Ethnic minorities in the US are experiencing a tyranny. Washington has elaborately woven the tag "melting pot," but it has already been torn into pieces by issues including the COVID-19 epidemic, the Black Lives Matter movement and the election. An increasing number of Americans are using all kinds of rhetoric to whitewash the deep-rooted problem. But how long can it last to wrap a festering wound with a tattered cloth?
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