Xinhua Commentary: U.S. police brutality against student protesters exposes hypocrisy on free speech-Xinhua

Xinhua Commentary: U.S. police brutality against student protesters exposes hypocrisy on free speech

Source: Xinhua| 2024-04-28 19:53:30|Editor:

by Xinhua writer Wang Xinyi

BEIJING, April 28 (Xinhua) -- Harassment, doxxing, death threats, stereotyping, unequal treatment ... And then there was tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets, all fired at student protesters across the United States.

Campuses have been torn apart this week as pro-Palestinian protests roiled U.S. colleges and escalated over more forceful and violent countermeasures by administrators and police.

Footage showing police beating protesters, dragging students to the ground and carrying them off in handcuffs flooded social media in a fray going from merely demanding ceasefire and divestment to lodging legal maneuvering and civil rights claims.

Hundreds of students and faculty members were arrested. Now the drama goes on as more colleges on Friday joined in Columbia University's lead in a coast-to-coast protest. The Ivy League school has been the epicenter of student protests for over a week.

Perhaps a much heavier blow than a forced switch to remote learning, delayed classes, canceled commencement ceremonies and disrupted graduation plans is a dangerous encroachment on academic freedom and a painful disillusionment with the American system.

Peaceful student demonstrators were framed by armed police and U.S. media as "perpetrators" deserving "crackdown." Capitol Hill elites were fast enough to define this protest as "anti-Semitic," bashing the students for incorrectly associating the civil rights movement with what is going on in Palestine and suggesting external tinges as behind the protest without producing a single shred of evidence.

"Arrests being made right now & will continue until the crowd disperses," Governor of Texas Greg Abbott wrote Thursday on X. "These protesters belong in jail. Antisemitism will not be tolerated in Texas. Period. Students joining in hate-filled, antisemitic protests at any public college or university in Texas should be expelled."

While our memory may wane, the Internet has it intact. In 2019, Abbott proudly tweeted "I just signed a law protecting free speech on college campuses," in stark contrast with his hardline take this time.

For him and the like, these encampments on campuses are clearly not "a beautiful sight to behold." Not in the slightest when they appear on U.S. soil.

Influencers and politicians on the far-right portrayed the protesters as "violent, dangerous and intent on taking over the country," USA Today observed in a report on Friday, saying "the claims were similar to what happened after mostly peaceful protests against police brutality in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd."

This distorted portrayal not only serves to demonize the protesters but also perpetuates a narrative that undermines the legitimacy of their grievances. Nearly four years after the Floyd tragedy, real change in policing remains elusive, despite outcries triggered by one nationwide protest after another.

Or perhaps, deep down, U.S. politicians know what it is, they just play dumb at home with filibusters and play the judge abroad whenever they feel their geopolitical interests at stake or whatchamacallit "a national security threat".

And when necessary, they blur the lines between rights and crimes. Because in the end, they reserve the right to explain, designate and interpret such terms as democracy, civil rights, national security, or whatsoever.

As the world watches in horror at the footage of U.S. police viciously suppressing student protests, it becomes painfully evident that America's espousal of free speech is a sham.

This appalling display of state-sponsored violence lays bare the hypocrisy of a nation that prides itself on democracy while trampling on the very principles it claims to uphold.