Once again, innocent members of yet another “minority community” have become victims of gun violence in the United States. On March 16, a series of mass shootings terrorised three spas in Atlanta, Georgia. Eight people, including six Asian women, were murdered. A suspect, a white man in his early 20s, was arrested. Mass protests across the US brought yet another facet of the incurably violent racism in this country to global attention.
The pattern has now been fully established. A murderous, self-identified “white man” picks up readily available assault weapons and goes on a rampage murdering Asians, African Americans, Arabs, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs – ethnically cleansing “their country” of people they consider undesirable.
The pattern began a very long time ago, when the Spaniards who “discovered” this land started slaughtering its native inhabitants. It continued with the murderous transatlantic slave trade and the lynching of African Americans. Now it extends to other immigrant communities who these criminal “white men” don’t like to see in “their country”.
They want a “whites only” country. Once they achieve that, they will start shooting at each other – resuming their equally racist thuggeries against the Italians, the Irish, the Germans, the Scots, the Poles, the Scandinavians, the works. “The white man” is the figment of a criminal imagination.
Let’s take a look at a few more recent samples of this “white man’s burden”.
The rolling metaphor of ‘the minorities’
On August 5, 2012, US army veteran and white supremacist Wade Michael Page attacked a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and fatally shot six people and wounded four others, a seventh victim died of his wounds in 2020. He was shot and killed by a police officer outside the temple after the massacre.
On February 10, 2015, Deah Shaddy Barakat, a Syrian American, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, both Jordanian Americans of Palestinian descent, were murdered in their home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. They were all students at local universities. Their white neighbour, Craig Stephen Hicks, was arrested and convicted of the heinous crime and is serving three consecutive life sentences. The liberal US press said this multiple murder was caused by a “parking dispute” and whitewashed its underlying racist causes.
On June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina, nine African Americans were murdered during Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the oldest Black churches in the United States. Police subsequently arrested a white supremacist terrorist named Dylann Roof for having committed the murderous act. He is currently serving nine consecutive life sentences without parole.
On October 27, 2018, a 46-year-old white man named Robert Gregory Bowers attacked the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh during Shabbat morning service, killing 11 people and wounding many others. He was arrested and is now facing either death or a consecutive sentence of 535 years in federal prison.
You can look at any year and it’s unlikely you’ll find one when the US has been without violent acts of murder and mayhem against so-called “minorities”. If you put all of these minorities together, they make up the majority of Americans – excepting the fictitious category of “White People”.
The burden of barbarity
The root cause of this sustained course of barbarous behaviour is an illusion that calls itself the “white man” and the “burden” he thinks he carries to civilise the world.
The White Man’s Burden: The United States and the Philippine Islands (1899) is a poem by the renowned racist, English poet Rudyard Kipling, who assigned himself the task of civilising the world with barbarous brutality.
“Take up the White Man’s burden,” he enjoined his fellow white men:
Send forth the best ye breed –
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness
On fluttered folk and wild –
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.
Kipling composed this cruel poem (how could a poet be so vicious?) on the occasion of the US invasion of the Philippines. What kind of a sick mind is this?
How does it feel to be Filipina, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, any kind of Asian, African, or Latin American, any kind of Jew, Muslim or Sikh in the US these or any other days? We are all sitting ducks waiting for our turn to be murdered, to help a “white man” unburden himself.
The relentless mass violence against Muslims, Blacks, Asians, Jews, Sikhs etc in the US, is the mirror image of the wars America wages around the globe, which result in waves of migration to the US.
America’s “white men” used to go abroad to maim and murder Black, brown and Asian people. Now they don’t have to go “overseas” because the “overseas” has come to them, so they periodically go hunting in their own neighbourhoods.
‘This land is our land’
In a bold and defiant recent book, This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant’s Manifesto (2019), Suketu Mehta has written a deeply erudite defence of global migrants and refugees who roam the globe and make the cruel wheels of predatory capitalism run their cycles.
Mehta begins his book with the story of his own grandfather sitting in a park in a suburb of London when a nasty old racist “white man” – an avid reader of Rudyard Kipling no doubt – approaches him and wags his finger at him demanding to know why he was in “his country”. “Because we are the creditors,” responds Mehta’s magnificent grandfather, who was born in India worked all his life in colonial Kenya and had retired in London, “We are here, because you were there.”
We are all here because they were there. The Africans are in France, the Indians are in the UK, the Koreans, the Vietnamese, and the Iranians are in the US, the Palestinians are in refugee camps, the Congolese are in Belgium – just roam around the globe and see we are all the gushing wounds and open scars European and US barbarities have left behind in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
People from around the globe whose countries have been at the mercy of their colonial and imperial savageries are roaming the globe in search of a haven for their families.
Migrants from poorer countries to richer climes are escaping poverty, climate change, rampant violence caused by localised tyrannies and the globalised imperialism of the US and its European and regional allies. The Chinese and the Russians are not any better, they are worse.
In just one statistic, Mehta says the amount of silver stolen between 1503 and the early 1800s “would amount to a debt of $165 trillion that Europe owes Latin America today.” Just look at that number and grasp its enormity – the entire budget US President Joe Biden has at his service to rebuild this dilapidated country is just three trillion.
“How Britain stole $45 trillion from India – And lied about it”, wrote Jason Hickel in an essay for Al Jazeera in 2018. He cites the renowned economist Utsa Patnaik from a book published by Columbia University Press in which she calculates that: “Britain drained a total of nearly $45 trillion from India during the period 1765 to 1938.”
These staggering numbers are only the indices, the tip of the iceberg of the incalculable human suffering caused by the predatory capitalism and racist colonialism the “white man’s burden” inflicted upon the globe.
There is no number one can put on the whole history of human misery the “white man” has caused on this ravaged earth. There is no rhetorical citation of the American folk singer Woody Guthrie’s 1940 song, This Land is Our Land, either. This land is not our land. This is the Native Americans’ land. I write this essay from the land that belonged to the Lenape Nation on which eventually Columbia University was built. I am their uninvited but grateful guest.
“The white man’s burden” is not real. It is a cruel joke. It is a dangerous delusion. It is an ugly “poem” spat out by a racist English poet and lived by generations through centuries of wanton cruelties around the globe, now on stage on a daily basis here in the United States.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.
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