At this point and after fifteen days of the one track topic we could say something has gotten out of hand on both sides of the Atlantic. George Floyd was assassinated by the Minneapolis police on May 25, that is, three weeks ago. If at that time they would have tell us in mid-June we were going to see Puerta del Sol in Madrid or Piazza del Popolo in Rome overcrowded with demonstrators, or Churchill statue next to the British Parliament vandalized by people protesting Floyd’s murder we would not have believed.
We can’t blame ourselves. Minneapolis is a secondary city in the USA. By population is the sixteenth metropolitan area of the country, far from big cities of the east coast like New York or Washington, of the Great Lakes like Chicago, from California like Los Angeles or San Francisco and even Texan cities like Dallas or Houston. It is an American provincial town 4,500 miles from Europe, hence very little news comes to us from that city. It is so remote and trivial that few Europeans could correctly place it on the map.
What happened on May 25 is a serious issue, but it is still a local story that should have resulted in the arrest of the local police officers who led to Floyd’s death. It would be inconceivable that every time a police officer commits abuse in Minneapolis, Phoenix or St. Louis, protests are called around the world. It would also be bizarre that if a person arrested by the London or Amsterdam police dies as a victim of the police action, protests are called in Seattle or Atlanta.
This has far outgrown the protest for the murder itself and has turned into a gigantic political operation underpinned by street activism. In the US it become understandable because there are elections in November and Democrats are not confident about their victory. Joe Biden is a weak candidate and his party knows it, so they the thought it was a good idea to take advantage of the Floyd case and oversize it to retake the street, activate their electorate and, incidentally, tear down Donald Trump .
But what about in Europe? Trump does not rule here, on the contrary, he is the leaders of the continent favorite villain. There are no elections close and Europe has much more pressing problems such as overcoming the health crisis caused by the coronavirus, facing the subsequent economic crisis or, focusing on long-standing conflicts, solving Brexit and the innumerable hardships that European countries are going through. For example, the problems Brussels nomenclature deals on countless issues such as immigration, terrorism or the future of the European project. But unexpectedly what has filled the streets up with protesters is a Minneapolis local incident.
In Brussels they vandalized the monument to Leopold II, in London the vandalized was Winston Churchill, on whose pedestal an angry protester wrote «was a racist» with a spray. Leopold II, who reigned between 1865 and 1909, was a ruthless imperialist and a infamous racist, but if Churchill did go down in history for something, it was due to he resisted with great determination the Third Reich during the Second World War. Still is more serious the graffiti on the statue of Abraham Lincoln, author for the emancipation act, which also suffered the anger of the protesters. They were not aware of these historical details, perhaps because are unknown for them.
Neither did so those in Berlin when they covered the plate on Mohrenstrasse (Moorish street) to put «George-Floyd Strasse» in its place. Mohrenstrasse street has been called that since 1707, apparently because a Prussian prince from the time of Frederick I brought slaves from Africa and put them to work in his mansion. That must have caught Berliners attention three centuries ago and they kept that name. In Madrid we have the Plaza de la Puerta de Moros (Moorsgate square) in La Latina, which in the Middle Ages gave access to the Morería and from there took the name that is of popular origin, coined at street level, like all the names of the streets in the historical centers of the cities. I wonder if we should also change the name of this square or immediately remove the statue of Augustus in front of the Zaragoza wall. It was placed there as a tribute for having founded the city in 14 BC. In addition, Augustus conquered the north of Iberian peninsula by blood and fire and was a stubborn slaver, collecting them by the thousands. But, as a good Roman, did not distinguish between races.
History, as we see, is full of nuances that cannot be flattened. The demonstrations of these days in Europe are aimed precisely at that, denouncing racism and colonialism, both phenomena of the past that are now completely overcome by European societies. The last colonies ceased to be more than half a century ago, and racism is even more distant. Nowhere in Europe has racist legislation or racial discrimination of any kind existed since the World War.
The scourge of slavery, however, has not completely disappeared. It is estimated that there are some forty million people in the world who remain enslaved, but none of them are in Europe, nor in North America. Most of today’s slaves are found in Sahel countries like Mauritania, Niger, Chad or Sudan. Anti-racist protesters would do well directing their anger against the rulers of these countries and not against the Churchill statue or a street sign in Berlin that has been called this way for over three hundred years.
But perhaps this is not about racism, colonialism, or even slavery. Maybe it is something else. As I said before, Trump does not govern here. Possibly is instrumental anti-racism. Perhaps we should look at certain movements of the extreme left that use this racism to take over the street and put European elites, riddled with political correctness and prey to a deep identity crisis, on their knees. The latter have been achieved literally. The spectacle given by some western leaders such as that of the ineffable Justin Trudeau kneeling before not knowing exactly what, oscillates between ridicule and shame of others. No one should kneel before anyone. It is absurd and irrational to hold the entire population of European descent on the planet accountable for what their ancestors did or, even worse, for what a local Minnesota police officer named Derek Chauvin (that no one had the slightest reference to until a couple of weeks) did.
Events like this are meaningless and anyone in his right mind understands it. You are responsible for your actions and nothing else, not for what those of the same sex, your same nationality or your same race do. Otherwise we would be falling into the most abject racism, the one that condemns an entire group for what one of them did spreading evilness to all others. Those who are promoting and encouraging this movement should stop and reflect on it, as by the forms of their denunciation they are accusing themselves.