America’s losing battle: Guns, Gangs, Opioids and Coronavirus
America is fighting fires on many fronts, from the Coronavirus pandemic to racial tension mixed with surging drug epidemic, and gun crimes. Due to the apathetic pandemic management, infection, and the death rates are climbing exponentially to reach new highs daily. According to recent projections, the death rate in the US will exceed 200,000 by November 2020. A patchwork of rules, regulations, and directives are messing up the social distancing and isolation practices, use of masks, and contact tracing efforts. While infectious disease experts sound the alarm calling it a ‘great concern’, US government is taking a low-key approach to the situation. Thus, America has difficulty putting her act together due to polarization on different levels.
According to experts, social distancing and isolation, and the use of masks would have saved many hundreds of thousands of lives. However, as everything has a political connotation, people give more importance to their freedoms than their lives.
Fast-moving virus crossed the three million-infection-mark with no sign of slowing down. As the pandemic crisis continues to escalate, the US fights fires on many dire issues. Crime in America has been an issue due to the proliferation of guns, gangs, and illegal drugs. During the initial days of the pandemic, the crime rate fell to a new low for the likings of sensible people, and law enforcement authorities. However, it is shooting back up to the pre-pandemic days with disastrous results.
Surging crime rate
During a recent weekend, six children, ages 6 to 14, were gunned down by gun trotting gangs. Chicago, Washington DC, Atlanta, Birmingham (Alabama), New York City along with other cities, and towns saw violent gun-related crimes on the upswing. During the last holiday weekend, New York saw 34 shootings, and Chicago witnessed the murder of 14 people by gun violence. As the gun violence surged, no age group was spared from death and injury: from a toddler in a car seat to young children, and older adults. Many were innocent bystanders. Reports indicate that many cities experienced a double to a triple-digit rate increase in gun-related incidents during the last long weekend. Also, there are spikes in burglaries and other crimes. Experts are attributing the crime rate increase on many different factors, including the early release of career-criminals from the prisons due to the pandemic, ongoing protest against police violence, and the resultant mistrust of police. A demoralized police force and a reduction in community policing are factors too.
Opioids and the drug crisis
For a long time, America has been struggling with drug addiction. Heightened attention to the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed other difficult issues that confront the US to the back burner. As people are preoccupied with social distancing, isolation, working from home, etc., experts expected that crime and drug addiction, domestic violence, etc. would subside. However, according to published reports, gun-related deaths, violent crimes, and drug overdoses are on the upsurge.
As borders of the nation are closed for non-essential traffic, authorities expected the cross-border drug traffic would come to a halt. According to reports, as the supply chain hit roadblocks, suppliers, and addicts desperately seeking out new sources and new chemical formulas. All the social isolation also has created loneliness among the addicts returning them to more drugs.
Now, the highly addictive opioids and similar drugs are raking havoc in the illegal drug user community. The drug problem is costing the country immensely that includes loss of lives and high costs associated with treatment programs.
Systemic racism and police violence
Despite many centuries have passed since the colonization of the Americas, and the Civil War, racism is still rampant in American society. Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 by Abraham Lincoln freed the enslaved people in the Confederacy. Later on, the civil rights movement took up the fight to end racial discrimination. However, their plight to gain equality continues. America is struggling to wipe out racism from its culture.
In the recent past, there have been many pronounced racism-related incidents all across the nation. Racism pitch one group against the other and builds animosity, hatred, and division. Racial biases manifest into cruel and unusual abuses. Recent random acts of violence purported by police on Black individuals are examples of systemic racism. Racism flares up frequently these days in the form of police brutality on racial minorities.
America’s political and racial divide
In the US, politics polarizes everything it touches. The middle ground is always a mirage. It is because the political and governance systems set up from the beginning. Left vs. right vs. conservative vs. democrats topped with a mix of inherent racial prejudices is the norm in the US these days. A country with vast riches, and plentiful willpower to achieve anything it aspires, however, has a serious shortcoming from a common cause perspective.
For Americans, everything has a political connotation: from wearing masks to social distancing, and opening and closing of the economy. There are ultra-left and right views on every issue. Political lines on climate change, gun control, women’s rights, race relations, and other major and mundane topics divide Americans. I believe it is due to their inherent fear and mistrust of the governments: federal and state. The fear has been there since the early years of the country. These days, politicians tend to use that mindset to their advantage. Thus, divisiveness is growing, the gap is widening, and the chasm is becoming hard to bridge.