A firecracker thrown by protesters explodes under police one block from the White House May 30, 2020 in Washington DC during a demonstration against police brutality in the death of George Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old African-American man who died on May 25 evening in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. Clashes broke out and major cities imposed curfews as the US began another night of unrest on May 31 with demonstrators ignoring warnings from President Donald Trump that his government would stop violent protests "cold."( Photo: AFP)
As the world watches the US being confronted with massive riots, looting, chaos and heightened violence, US officials, instead of reflecting on the systematic problems in their society that led to such a crisis, have returned to their old "blame game" against left-wingers, "fake news" media and "external forces."
As more and more netizens question "whether this is how US President Donald Trump makes America great again," observers see a weak, irresponsible and incompetent leadership navigating the country into a completely opposite direction, with all-out efforts to deflect public attention from its own failure.
Mass protests erupted in a growing numbers of cities in the US over the weekend, and at least 40 cities have imposed curfews, while the National Guard has been activated in 14 states and Washington DC, according to US media reports. About 1,000 people protested outside the White House Sunday night as police used flash bangs to prevent more from gathering, the reports said. With Trump seeking shelters in the White House, protests across the country continued into a sixth straight night.
More Americans have slammed the US president for inciting hatred and racism, and US officials, who turn a blind eye to the deep-seated issues in American society, including racial injustice, economic woes and the coronavirus pandemic, began shifting the blame to the former US president, extremists, and China for inflaming the social unrests.
While the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter continued to trend on social media, as protests grew in the US following the death of 46-year-old George Floyd, Trump hid inside an underground bunker on Friday night in the White House where the place turned off at least some of its exterior lights, the New York Times reported. Though he was out of public view, Trump did not stop tweeting to bash his opponents, dismissing advice to tone down his rhetoric online, which would only aggravate the situation, the report said.
"The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA a Terrorist Organization," Trump wrote in a tweet on Sunday, then tweeted that "the Lamestream Media is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy." Providing little evidence, Trump and his administration have blamed left-wing extremists and ANTIFA for inciting violence at the protests.
The protests exposed long-standing issues in the US, including racial inequality, discrimination and a polarized society, which have been amplified under the Trump administration, some Chinese and US observers said.
"For years, Trump has torched America's international reputation. Now, it's burning to the ground," Brian Klaas, a political scientist at London-based University College London, said in a tweet on Sunday.
"Injecting disinfectant. Armed extremists storming a legislature. Conspiracy theories from the White House. The tweets. A racist president at a breaking point for racial injustice," he noted.
Using the racial problem to polarize American society is a long-standing strategy for Trump to consolidate his support from less-educated and low-income white Americans, Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday.
Before he was elected in 2016, Trump had already started to hype the problem of immigrants from Mexico, and vowed to "build a wall" to solve the problem. An immigrant crisis erupted along the US-Mexico border in 2019 as discrimination against Latinos increased.
Also, making people like Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro White House strategists and advisers, Trump has give ultra-right nationalist forces the unprecedented chance to divide American society by influencing the decision-making and policymaking of the country. Observers noted that this is also a crucial reason why populism and xenophobia in the US has grown sharply in recent years, and the US society is getting increasingly polarized and divided.
Trump also hyped anti-Muslim sentiment with a travel ban to many Islamic countries. When the COVID-19 epidemic spiraled out of control in the US due to his administration's failed handling, Trump also incited hatred against China and hyped racist sentiment against Asians, especially Chinese, and even called the COVID-19 the "Chinese virus" to further provoke Chinese people.
"This strategy is effective to some extent, as Trump's base - undereducated and low-income white people - are xenophobic due to the wealth gap caused by economic and financial problems, and Trump has used this successfully," Lü said.
The current situation is a consequence of this strategy that tries to divide the country, which only serves his political interests, but will be very harmful to the US, Chinese analysts noted.
"A White House adviser close to the president told me recently that Trump cares about neither the interests of the Republicans nor the national interest. The president only cares about himself," Lü noted.
Racial discrimination against minorities is a chronic disease in American society, and the ongoing protests once again reflects that, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told a routine press conference on Monday.
The US government has been urged to take measures to fulfill its responsibilities under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination while guaranteeing the legitimate rights of minorities, he said.
The latest CNN poll in May show Democrat Joe Bidden leading Trump by at least 5 percentage points, 51 to 46 percent. The Fox News poll shows an even wider margin of 48 percent for Biden and 40 percent for Trump.
Experts predict that blaming China, Russia, Iran or any other country is useless for the Trump administration, and he should solve the riots, revive the economy and contain the COVID-19 epidemic.
However, it has been the Trump administration's strategy to shift the blame, even amid ongoing protests, as White House National Security adviser Robert O'Brien rejected the existence of systemic racism among law enforcement. Some former US officials have hinted on shifting the blame to foreign forces. Mick Mulroy, a former Pentagon official and retired CIA officer and current ABC News analyst, was quoted as saying in a report by the Washington Post that foreign intelligence services often use a domestic unrest in the US "to their advantage by exaggerating that unrest through social media and influence operations."
"Their claim that the social unrest was fueled by external forces lacks a basic understanding of American society," Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday.
Since Trump took office, his constant attacks on the media has damaged press credibility over the years, the expert noted, as the ongoing protests also exposed the hypocrisy and double standards of some US media outlets.
O'Brien said in an interview with CNN on Sunday that "as far as our foreign adversaries, look, we always have foreign adversaries who are on Twitter and Facebook and other places trying to sow discord among Americans."
He said, "And the difference between us and our foreign adversaries — and I want to send a message to the Chinese or whoever else is taking satisfaction in this — when we have an event like... what happened to George Floyd, which was just horrifying... we're going to investigate it."
Chinese analysts said remarks made by O'Brien were pointless and nonsense, because when Chinese people saw what was happening in the US, they were shocked, not "satisfied", because the US image in their minds has been ruined as they didn't anticipate the Floyd incident and nationwide riots could happen in the most powerful country in the world, and that the leaders of the country could be so incompetent in handling the crises, whether the riots or the COVID-19.
The comments of Chinese web users and media were made in retaliation to US politicians who were very satisfied when Hong Kong suffered from violent activities last year, they noted.
Lü said this raises an interesting question. "In China, between the anti-US people and pro-US people, which is increasing? My answer is none, but the people who see the US government as a joke increased."
It will be a tough year for the US, and the Trump administration is unable to push forward its "major power competition" with China, as its priority is to clean the big mess at home, Lü noted.