Domestic challenges facing Biden

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Dr Muhammad Khan

UNITY among the Americans was the significant feature, President Joe Biden em phasized during his inaugural speech on January 20, 2021. Indeed, like every sensible American, President Joe Biden strongly feels that Trump’s four-year tenure has caused a serious and unprecedented split among the traditionally strong and cohesive American society. The people having insight of American society opine that there has never been such a rift within American society in the past as it exists today. They believe that the contemporary social divide within US society is serious than what it was during American Civil War. The American Civil War lasted from 1861 to 1865 between northern states loyal to the Union and southern states, which seceded to form the Confederate States of America. The contemporary divide is a mind-set emerged into the mind of every American based on race and religion; a perilous drift. Racism and enslavement of black people were the starting point of the American Civil War at that time. Racism and white supremacy are still dominant factors in the contemporary American socio-political order while adding many more fissiparous tendencies.

For over a century, the United States enjoyed the distinctiveness of ‘unity in diversity’ in its socio-economic and socio-political order. This peculiarity revolutionized US state and society from three perspectives; enrichment of the knowledge-based economy, initiation of technological and military advancements and conceptualization for a global leadership role. The dividends of these aspects brought US to the level of one of the superpowers at the conclusion of World War-II and as the sole superpower, sequel to the disintegration of the former Soviet Union. As a concept, unity in diversity means “unity without uniformity and diversity without fragmentation”. All fifty states of America have diverse population from all over the world with various religions, races, languages and culture. Over the years, people from diverse background migrated to the United States and created a diverse social order through enriched and diverse human interaction. This unity in diversity profited America and its native populace more than those who migrated and the expatriates and job seekers. Indeed, America became globally acceptable and attractive place for all cultures, races and religions.

Former President Donald Trump cannot be blamed alone for the contemporary divide in American society. Indeed, indicators of this split immediately appeared after the unfortunate incident of 9/11. The incident itself was furthered and incited through some pre and post acts of terrorism elsewhere in the world. For these terrorist attacks in the US and elsewhere, Muslims were blamed and targeted through a well-planned strategy within the United States as well as Europe. Unfortunately, American and European masses were misled through anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamophobia which ‘become pervasive features of American and European public life. Whether in formal politics or national media, there has been repeated negative stereotypes and fear-mongering messaging about Muslims and their place in society in the US and Europe.’

It is pertinent to mention that Muslim populace still constitute as an essential part of the European and American societies and living there peacefully. For decades, Muslims assimilated themselves into these societies as their essential part without any unruly act. The hatred, violence and vengeance erupted against Muslims after Twin Towers attack timid Muslims on one hand but created a divide in the American society on the other. The American Government and its establishment (deep state) were happy to discriminate and alienate the Muslims but they neither realized nor calculated the cost, US society will have to pay thereafter. Indeed, American state and society is paying the cost of the wilful act against a particular community, who had no role in 9/11, which clearly lead that the happening was deeply engineered to target Muslims and create division among US diverse and harmonious society. In the process of hostility and abhorrence against Muslims, US natives (whites) supported by state institutions started discriminating and targeting all migrants and expatriates including those, who have been living there for centuries and contributed a lot towards US rise to its current status.
There re-emerged the trends of white supremacy which dissipated and faded away in a diverse social order in the country after 1865. President Joe Biden called American people to end the “uncivil war” from United States and move forward for greater and larger national objectives. But, America is facing myriad of domestic challenges like shattering economy, uncontrolled pandemic, rising racial inequality, re-energized white supremacy, worsening climate change, and strained international alliances. President Joe Biden may be willing to revamp the American society while following the narrative of unity in diversity, but it will take decades to undo the damage which has been caused to US society in the last two decades. There are two glaring types of the cracks existing in the US society today: Racial supremacy of whites against blacks and migrants and a sense of alienation against Muslims. A deep inquiry would reveal that these splits are well crafted and run against the American long-term strategic interests. A socially divided, politically challenged and economically susceptible America would find itself hard to pursue its strategic goals and compete its rising peers in the international politics. Although, President Joe Biden is cognizant of this ground reality but what about the emerging mind-set in the US; the Capitol Hill attack, desolation of US democratic values and 73 million people who voted for a racist President?
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.