Sep 26, 2020 Editorial
A black hole is a phenomenon in space wherein some cosmic event, often a collapsing star collapsing in on itself, creates this area that is so dense that no light can escape it, essentially becoming the opposite of what it once was – a giver of light becoming a stealer of light.
Since the post-World War 2 era, the United States of America has always stood as a beacon of democracy in the world, first against the influence of Soviet Russia, and now against a China whose global influence is growing globally even as it’s moving deeper and deeper into internal authoritarianism. At present, the latter superpower has not only consolidated power under superman President Xi Jingping at an unprecedented level in history, but it has shown its government has shown its capacity for systematic and often brutal repression of dissent or just plain freedom, as demonstrated by its actions in Hong Kong against protestors and by its detention of Muslim Uighurs, up to a million according to the United Nations, in a systematic crackdown on the minority group’s cultural rights. Accurate news from Xinjiang province, where the Uighur crackdown has been taking place, has been scarce, with the Chinese government creating an informational black hole on the human rights abuses taking place there.
American Secretary State, Mike Pompeo, who visited here recently on what has been touted as a China pushback tour, has called reports of Chinese authorities forced sterilisations and abortions among the Uighur community shocking and disturbing. The irony of his emotions couldn’t have been lost on Mr. Pompeo with reports last week of unwanted hysterectomies being performed on migrant women being held at detention centres in the US.
Unfortunately, unwanted reproductive procedures are not the only phenomenon indicating that the United States is on the pathway to having far more in common with its geopolitical ‘nemesis’ than true believers in American exceptionalism like Pompeo would dare to admit. In March of 2018, President Xi succeeded in removing the term limits to his office of party leader and therefore president, meaning that he would not be automatically demitting office in 2022 after his two five-year terms in office. Asked directly by a reporter earlier this week whether he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power in the wake of a loss of the presidential elections scheduled for this November, US President Donald Trump refused to give a direct answer, signally in fact the opposite, that he would oppose such a move if he lost. This is technically not new to the Trump rhetoric – a year ago, even before his first term was up, he was already floating the idea of a third term. What makes his rhetoric now particularly dangerous is that America is now just weeks away from an election, one in which he is down in the polls and one that is due to be impacted by the challenges of holding an election even as the country is seeing record deaths from COVID-19.
Trump’s remarks have prompted responses from both the legislature and the military that there would be no support for any action that would sustain the legitimacy of an undemocratic regime yet the fact that both entities had to be explicit on this indicates that things are not all well in the world’s most powerful democracy.
American leaders, from Kennedy to Obama, have used the metaphor of light for the role of America in global affairs, invoking the biblical imagery of a shining city on a hill. Indeed, it is with that moral authority that America – despite its actions in the past to the contrary – has been able to intervene and prevent certain countries from sliding into dictatorship. Indeed, it is significantly due to America’s intervention, particularly Pompeo’s, that Guyanese were saved just last month from being subjected to a return to the dictatorial oppression of the 1970s and 1980s. That light may very well be under the threat of caving in on itself, creating a black hole for democracy the sphere of influence of which extends to the entire hemisphere.
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