“Trump decided that everything will end by itself — it often happened in the US”
Americanist Boris Kalyagin about the unrest in the United States and the benefits that can be extracted from them by the active forces
Since May 25, many major cities in the United States have been gripped by street unrest — citizens are protesting against harsh police actions against the Afro-American population. The protests look far from peaceful, with arson and robberies. Boris Kalyagin, a well-known American journalist and correspondent of the Central television of the USSR in the United States in the late 1980s, told Realnoe Vremya when the riots will end and what may follow after them.
“If Obama becomes vice-presidential candidate, Biden's chances, of course, will increase”
Boris Alexandrovich, why have the protests in the United States taken over the entire country, but not everywhere peaceful?
There was a confluence of circumstances. First, in the United States, racial contradictions often manifest themselves, accompanied by clashes between African-Americans and the police. Here the role of an additional catalyst was played by a photo that was shown on all TV screens in the world, where you can see that a police officer is choking an African American man with his knee — the photo had a very strong effect on people.
The protests took place in a wide spectrum, and this indicates that there was a confluence of racial contradictions and dissatisfaction with what is happening in the country, including the standard of living of African Americans and the actions of the police against them. Besides, African Americans were joined by broad left-wing masses. But what is more important to note, it is in American society that there are always groups of people who are ready to take advantage of any discontent to loot, burn cars, break windows. These people never protest or make any political demands, and there are a lot of such people in the United States.
And finally, one more important point. All the protests took place during the campaign for the election of the president of the country, as well as the governors, House of Representatives of the US Congress and a third of the Senate.
Most Americans still have a positive view of Obama
All these moments — racial, electoral, factors of the left and hooligans — were combined in these May and June days, but the figures fighting for the power of the Democratic party also deliberately stoked the sentiments of speakers to push the electoral positions of Donald Trump. For me, and for many others, it was obvious that many leaders of the Democratic Party, quite decent people, such as popular among the youth Bernie Sanders or successful businessman and economist Michael Bloomberg, decided to leave the struggle in the elections, and as a candidate in US presidents from Democrats there remained Biden who could give way to Trump. And figures of the Democratic Party decided to use these speeches to oust Trump and undermine his chances of election. According to the news from the United States, it was felt that the Democrats were simply setting up a certain part of society to protest. Thus, they believed that with the support of the protests, Biden would certainly come to power.
Besides, in recent days in the United States, there were reports that in order to ensure Biden's victory, the Democratic Party decided to find an attractive figure for the post of Vice President, and the idea came up — to persuade former President Barack Obama, who very successfully spent his double presidential term, to this role. This option could appeal to the black population of the United States, reassure them, and the majority of Americans still have a positive attitude to Obama. I don't know if the Democrats will be able to persuade Obama, but he may be a participant in a certain intrigue. He may be told that thanks to Obama the Democratic victory can be achieved and also hint that the 78-year-old Biden is not in the best state of health, that in a couple of years he will ask for his resignation and the vice president will become president again. Biden's chances, if Obama runs for Vice President, will certainly increase.
But Obama may be stopped by moral considerations. He is a very worthy man and understands that he will become a participant in the intrigue — but does he need it? I do not dare to say anything about this yet, it all depends on the degree of persuasion by the Democrats of Obama himself.
Biden's chances, if Obama runs for Vice President, will certainly increase
“Many African Americans are impoverished, and laws can't fix it so easily'
Just the election of Obama as president in 2008 could make many people in the world think that there are no racial contradictions in the United States. However, as you've said, this is not the case. What is the reason?
Certainly, the American leadership tried to do a lot to alleviate racial contradictions, but we should not forget that in the middle of the 19th century, slavery flourished in the United States, which was abolished only as a result of the war between the North and South. It was not until 1865 that the abolition of slavery act was passed as an amendment to the Constitution. But the unequal status of the African Americans in the United States continued for another seventy years: a person with black skin could not safely ride on a bus with white people sitting in it, he could easily be thrown out of it, such cases happened very often. And the great work to achieve true equality of blacks and whites was done by priest Martin Luther King. First of all, his outstanding performances, and in addition, a huge role was played by his tragic death in 1968. Rallies, protests, and demonstrations broke out across the country. Since the late '60s and up to the present day, there have been no such protests against racial discrimination in the United States.
But we can remember the protests in Los Angeles in 1992, when 62 people were killed.
Yes, but there was no such thing as people taking out to the streets all over the country.
Why have these racial contradictions remained in one of the most democratic countries?
Resentment for past deeds, for past discrimination remains in the hearts and souls of many African Americans in the United States. Again, a lot has been done for the black population, everything is now clean and good in Harlem, and when a feature film is made in the United States, one of the leading roles must be a person with black skin colour. But the fact remains that black people live worse in the United States. Many African Americans are impoverished, and laws can't fix it so easily.
We know that in the United States, there is quite serious legislation on holding rallies and demonstrations that requires approval. And we observed their spontaneous appearance without any coordination. Why didn't the authorities respond according to the law, especially in the context of the coronavirus pandemic? Isn't this a sign of weakness?
Public opinion played a big role in supporting the demonstrators. Besides, as I've said, the Democrats are counting on the protests to bring them to power. Support is proved by that the Democrats are on their knees, expressing solidarity with the demonstrators.
Black people live worse in the US. Many African Americans are impoverished, and laws can't fix it so easily
“Trump has not decided how to behave in this situation”
Are you not surprised that what is happening on the streets of US cities has not lead to a huge number of victims? Yes, unfortunately, more than 20 people were killed, but it could have been much more. Actions with riots were held in major cities, where the population is large.
It could have been, but the US police are very restrained these days, despite the fact that at the protests you can hear demands to remove it. But I'm sorry — how can there be no police in the country at all? Apparently, American police officers are instructed to behave as quietly as possible and try not to engage in any clashes and not to arrest people in large numbers.
Do the US police really need some kind of reform, or are we just seeing the emotions of people outraged by Floyd's murder? After all, there are no reasonable demands at protest actions. Does this mean that the police in the United States generally work well and the reasons for this are social?
The percentage of people who commit criminal acts in the United States among the black population is much higher, and there is no getting away from it. Why is this happening? First of all, it is very difficult for African Americans to get a decent secondary and higher education, many of them are brought up in an environment where criminal acts occur. Hence, life is not in the best conditions. Of course, there are many decent people among the blacks, but if you take the majority of them, there are a lot of those who commit crimes — this is both petty theft and crimes while drunk. All this inevitably leads to clashes with the police. And it seems that the police are to blame for everything, which treats people with black skin with prejudice.
But for the US police, these events are also a lesson. Therefore, they decided that it was not necessary to make sure that people were clearly beaten at rallies. Again, the photo with Floyd played a big role — it makes many police officers think. But you see — black people were killed more than once and not twice, and everything “passed” quite quickly, and here there was an outburst of anger, which was used by many forces who want to start a broader protest movement. The same left-wing radicals with a Trotskyist worldview.
And it seems that the police are to blame for everything, which treats people with black skin with prejudice
By the way, what can we say about the influence of left-wing forces and left-wing ideas on black people? Have African-Americans got caught up in the idea of social justice?
A few points to the left forces add their performances against the police, but if we talk about the left in general, their influence is now felt more in Europe than in the United States. The United States has always been quiet about supporting the left, so to speak.
What does it mean that Trump, as president, refrained from being harsh towards the protesters, but “threatened”?
Trump has not decided how to behave in this situation. Initially, he pretended that nothing special had happened: he expressed his condolences, said that “we will restore order, take measures”, and continued his pre-election speeches to his audience. Most likely, Trump has not decided that it is necessary to do something radical to change something. I think that he decided that all this will end by itself because it often happened in the United States — one performance passed, the second, and soon everything comes to nothing. And the election is still a few months away, so he's biding his time.
“There will be no special actions to restructure the police”
You said that the Democrats who support the demonstrators are taking advantage of the situation. Did the Democrats manage to oust Trump's positions five months before the presidential election?
On the one hand, the Democrats managed to achieve instability in the country. After all, such a picture has not been seen in US cities for a very long time, and this seems to mean for them that Trump has chosen the wrong policy. But, on the other hand, there is another part of the population of the United States that lives in rural areas and that believes that the country is going to be outraged if crowds of people on the streets smash windows, and you need to restore some order. And they are very unhappy that the Democrats are taking part in this.
I think Trump can play on that the unrest does not subside only “thanks” to the Democratic party. And this behaviour will suit, let's say, “normal” Americans who do not want any such unrest. In general, everything will depend on the behaviour of the two parties, on Trump, on Biden, because their every step is now in the sphere of attention of the Internet and the media.
In the campaign speech in Dallas on June 11, Trump promised to improve the situation of black citizens by increasing their access to capital to start small businesses, making health care more affordable, and allowing them to choose a school for their education. Can we expect more from Biden as a candidate and possible president?
I think Biden will do something if he is elected to the high post, and he will say more about these steps in his campaign speeches. Probably, first of all, it will be measures in the field of education. This is the most painful topic for African Americans. I also think that something will be offered to them to develop themselves in sports — after all, the black population feels very confident in this area.
I think Trump can play on that the unrest does not subside only “thanks” to the Democratic party. And this behaviour will suit, let's say, “normal” Americans who do not want any such unrest
What can you expect about the police? On June 11, Trump said he was working on an executive order that “will encourage police departments in the United States to meet the most modern professional standards in the use of force, including de-escalation tactics”. What does it indicate?
It will be once again confirmed that the police have the right to many things, and now we see only individual violations in the performance of duties, as police often deal with fights, drinking alcohol, and so on. It will be indicated that the police do not need to use firearms first. There will be no special actions to restructure the police, everything is normal in this regard.
Can you predict when the protests in the United States will come to an end?
The picture will calm down completely after the elections, and they are not far away.