OPINION: American system does not reflect American values

Arnav Damodhar | Staff Writer


1,134 deaths.

According to the Guardian, 1,134 young black men died at the hands of police officers in 2015. This number was five times higher than young white men. This statistic is not a surprise. Time after time, we see cases of police brutality against minorities. And after a while, each death just starts to become a number. The death soon becomes irrelevant because there’s just so many.

But this statistic is flawed. Flawed in a sense that it doesn’t represent the American common man. It only represents the American system. And the American system, the way that our government and law enforcement agencies operate, is anything but a mere reflection of the common man because the common man is understanding.

Most people presume the average American common man is family oriented. He makes a nominal living by working a 9 to 5 job and focuses on the wellbeing of his family. He does his best to make sure that his children have access to quality education and that his family can live their life with peace. He is kind.

The American system, however, is not. The American system is dictated by a set of rules and procedures. And before these procedures, there are no exceptions.

According to international law, diplomats and government officials are free from going through security clearance as a matter of respect and convenience. We wouldn’t expect Barack Obama to go through security when traveling abroad. And yet Dr. Abdul Kalam, the president of India, was frisked by authorities at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, and forced to undergo security screening because he was presumed to be a threat.

A similar situation occurred when a family was traveling to Disney World. The parents had a daughter with special needs and who was confined to a wheelchair. When the family was making its way through the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint, the agent asked to pat down the three-year-old girl. The agent said that it could be a potential security threat.

As a developed nation, it is pitiful to see things like police brutality and frisking innocent people without just cause being the matter of utmost importance. In an ideal world, these dilemmas shouldn’t have to be solved because these issues shouldn’t be a problem.  As a result of the stringent American system, it drives a wedge in our society. The system isn’t ineffective because it’s stringent. Sometimes strict is good. It enforces discipline. The system is ineffective because it lacks understanding. The system can’t tell the difference between a special needs girl in a wheelchair and an evildoer. The system can’t tell the difference between a terrorist and a president of a nation.

If the system continues to be this way, the common man will be a reflection of the system. And we will turn something that was once kind and understanding and make it ruthless.