By Zhong Sheng
“Health care should be a right, not a privilege in America.” These words recently said by U.S. President Joe Biden when he delivered a speech at the U.S. Capitol received huge attention.
What he said reflected the chaos and trauma in the U.S. caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a fact that the U.S. citizens’ rights to life and health are not effectively protected.
As of May 27, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. had exceeded 33 million, with more than 600,000 deaths. Facing these figures, some U.S. media outlet pointed out that the situations shouldn’t have been so bad, and most of the deaths could’ve been avoided.
The White House responded with inaction in the early stage of the pandemic, and it still didn’t do enough to cope with the virus in the following days. As a result, the U.S. government could do nothing but watch situations lose control.
More shockingly, the U.S. leader at that time ignored the warning from scientists and intentionally played down the risks. Besides, he also controlled the spread of information, and even released false messages to mislead the public, saying the COVID-19 pandemic was a flu, the risk to the American people remained very low, and the disease would “miraculously” be gone. However, the consequence could only be the golden window-period being wasted.
Nothing is more important than people’s lives, and there should’ve been no irresponsible trial and error. When people’s lives are at risks, to save them at all cost is the only correct way. However, that is not the case in the U.S. When the virus came furiously, some U.S. politicians who had always bragged about democracy and human rights, showed no willingness or action to risk everything to save the American people, which exposed their hypocrisy.
The rights to life and health are basic human rights. The pandemic going out of control in the U.S. reflected the contempt of some American politicians on basic human rights. Though medical studies proved that wearing masks can effectively prevent infection, the last U.S. administration and some regional officials still rejected to make mask wearing compulsory. Some American politicians are still seeking private interests even when the U.S. has ranked the first in the world regarding the numbers of infections and deaths. To win more votes, they pressed for resumption of businesses, markets and schools, in total disregard of further transmission of the virus.
Such anti-science and conscienceless political manipulation presented, in a clearer manner, what kind of political achievements the American democracy is chasing. Putting private political gains, party interests, and economic benefits above the lives and health of the people, the so-called American democracy is doing nothing but hurting the people.
Facts prove that the COVID-19 pandemic has made vulnerable groups in the U.S. more fragile, but the privileged are feeling numb. According to a report by a U.S. media outlet last August, Americans cared for in certified nursing homes accounted for less than 1 percent of the country’s total population, but made up 40 percent of the COVID-19 deaths. Statistics indicated that COVID-19 mortality among African Americans and Hispanics in New York was times higher than that among the white people in the city, and African Americans accounted for 70 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Chicago.
United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Philip Alston said that the poor people are more prone to the virus in the U.S., while they are not taken good care of by the response measures adopted by the U.S. government which is chaotic and values enterprises’ profits. The Washington Post called the U.S. pandemic control efforts“state-sanctioned killing,” where “the old, factory workers, and black and Hispanic Americans” were deliberately sacrificed.
Obviously, the American democracy is inhumane, let alone not conforming to the international humanitarianism. As humans share a same future, the fight against the virus needs solidarity and mutual assistance. However, the ugly performance of some U.S. politicians has totally gone against human civilization. When most of the countries in the world joined hands to fight the virus last year, the U.S. intercepted medical materials of other countries and withdrew from the World Health Organization. This year, when billions of people were expecting COVID-19 vaccines, the U.S. was hoarding the shots and reluctant to share. It even banned the export of vaccine materials. How selfish, cold, and narrow it is!
It is obvious who is safeguarding people’s rights to life and health and building a global community of health for all. When some U.S. politicians are using human rights as a weapon to attack other countries, they shall understand that what they have done only revealed how fake their so-called human rights are.
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy.)