American justice in the post-Sept. 11 world is not the warm blanket of security that the administration of President George W. Bush would have us believe.
At least that is what panelists at a Temple Issues Forum debate held last Thursday said as they discussed the effects of U.S. domestic and foreign policy on minority groups and “non-white countries.”
Activists at the forum, including Ramona Africa, a founding member of the MOVE organization, and Ewuare Osayande, an black activist and an author of “Black Anti-Ballistic Missiles,” spoke to the large audience about relations between the U.S. government and domestic minority groups.
Activists talked about how minorities, including women, are struggling to be treated as equal and respected human beings.
Africa criticized the inequality of women and homosexual people in American society even though the Declaration of Independence ensures people’s equality.
“Think differently,” Africa said. “Until we think differently, nothing is going to change. Condemn what is wrong and support for what is right.”
According to the panelists, the U.S. government did not exercise justice and fairness toward Iraq.
Palestinian activist Ziad Abu-Rish said the White House uses the mission of American “freedom” as the “excuse” for the economic and political stability in the United States after Sept. 11, 2001.
“The objective of the U.S. foreign policy right now is to control the natural resources such as oil, diamonds or even labor for the U.S. economy and to sell American products in that part of the world,” Abu-Rish said.
“There are a lot of responsibilities [for the United States],” he said. “I don’t think the answer to the question is to completely lead Iraq… Provide the food. Pay for the damage. Those are the things the United States should do [right now], instead of being there, collecting oil, opening the market, and finding the labor.”
Bekyon Yim, an activist on militarization in Korea, and Alicia Rivera, a Puerto Rican Youth Organizer spoke about how the existence of the U.S. military in their countries put dark shadows on people’s daily lives.
South Koreans commit suicide every year because of noise from military exercises such as bomb tests and live-fire training, Yim said.
“Although we hear people say that Sept. 11, 2001, was the worst domestic terrorism in the United States, I think we need to remember our own history,” Tonya McClary, the moderator for the forum, said.
“How can we forget the whole issue of slavery and Jim Crow? How can we forget the internment of Japanese Americans during the war?”
Minority and international students in the United States also faced difficulties after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“Things really changed after Sept. 11, 2001,” said Khanh, a Temple student who declined to give a last name. “More hate crimes against international and minority students were reported after Sept. 11, 2001.
And the [U.S.] government tried to keep international students out of this country. They had the tough time because of that.”
Toshiyuki Horiuchi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.