The United States today has the most COVID-19 infections and deaths among the over 210 countries and territories where the pandemic coninues to rage today. A tally released this weekend by Johns Hopkins University put the total number of deaths in the US at 115,347 out of the world total of over 426,000.
But the coronavirus deaths and infections have been overtaken in the US public’s attention and interest by the protest demonstrations over the death of a black man, George Floyd, after a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes after arresting him in Minneapolis.
The protest demonstrations soon spread to other cities, becoming a movement for racial equality. Last Friday, another black man, Rayshard Brooks, was shot dead by an Atlanta policeman and protesters burned down a restaurant where the shooting had taken place.
The nationwide protest has taken various turns, but all related to racial inequality. There is now a growing move to remove all monuments honoring political and military leaders of the Confederated States of America (CSA) which fought – and lost to – the US led by President Abraham Lincoln. The abolition of slavery had been a dominant cause in that civil war, along with Lincoln’s determination to hold the US together.
A marble statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the CSA during the civil war, has now been removed from Kentucky’s Capitol Rotunda. But many other leaders of the rebel South in that civil war continue to be honored in the southern states. Even at the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, one of the cadet barracks still bears the name of famed alumnus Gen. Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederate forces in the civil war.
There is one other issue that is beginning to draw national attention – the presidential election in November, in which President Donald Trump of the Republican Party is seeking reelection, with former Vice President Joe Biden of the Democratic Party challenging him.
President Trump has been accused of failing to act decisively enough on COVID-19. He is now pushing for the early reopening of the various locked-down states and cities to get the country moving again. He recently posed in front of the St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House, holding the Bible aloft, after police forcibly cleared nearby Lafayette Square of noisy protesters.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, the protests against racial inequality, and the national election campaign – these are now dominating events in the United States. The whole world, including us in the Philippines, shares its suffering as the nation with the most coronavirus deaths and infections.
As for its racial turmoil and now its rising election fever, we hope it will make it through these highly divisive events. As the world’s leading economy, the US has a key role in world stability, and its championship of democratic government is needed to maintain peace in the world today.