criticalvoices

On issues that matter …

American Lives Matter July 18, 2016

Time was when as a young reporter in the India of the ‘80s I was discovering the big bad geo-political world and used to wonder time and again, whether American lives as they were, were more valuable than any other on the planet. The value placed on an American’s life was more of a non-negotiable assertion by a pompous and perhaps a very White Uncle Sam.

Whether it was a hijacked American plane, an American tourist stuck in a foreign conflict zone, or potential threats to the country in general, American citizens held a value placed on them by the American administration that made people in the rest of the world feel undervalued. Those days in India the government didn’t really flinch upon recurring incidents where hundreds of devotees routinely died in stampedes or bus loads of them fell off of winding cliffs, or got killed in political rallies or in train derailments, or perished simply because they were poor and considered collateral damage in riots instigated to establish religious superiority.

But Americans… the slightest of trouble sensed in any part of the world would have the US in all righteous condescension issue travel advisories for its prized citizens, to go with caution or not at all.

So I was tickled recently when the sparky little Atlantic island of Bahamas issued a travel advisory to its people to avoid venturing into Uncle Sam’s backyard in view of the recent race related violence.

Well, it’s not funny actually.

Come to think of it, Americans themselves are conflicted now whether it is ‘Black lives’ that matter or ‘All lives’ in America that matter. I would like to remind them to hark back to their status in the world as it used to be and say that ‘American lives matter’.

Unfortunately however, my reminder would not carry much conviction. You see life in American has become cheap. Real cheap. All it takes now for an American life to be snuffed out on its own soil is a jittery and prejudiced policeman, a frustrated and marginalized Black man, a hater intolerant of others’ faith, race or sexual orientation; a dope head loser with a semi-automatic weapon going berserk in a suburban school or on a college campus, in a mall or cinema theater; or a toddler playing with a careless parent’s gun bought at a gun show just to assert some lame constitutional right.

Yes, an American’s life, I can conclusively say has become cheap. It’s worth a measly bullet bought off of a shelf in Walmart. Now, how cheap is that?

Srirekha Chakravarty