Shame – Fourth Nation Issues Travel Warnings to America

*The following is an opinion column by R Muse *

For some people, the concept of shame escapes them when it comes to their native country despite national actions that should embarrass them mercilessly. Americans, typically, are so full of hubris when it comes to anything related to America that they appear incapable of being ashamed of anything that happens no matter how despicable, including not being capable of protecting its own citizens.

It is probably true that in an effort to protect their citizenry, every country on Earth’s government issues warnings and advisories to stay clear of dangerous areas. The United States government, although incapable of protecting its citizens from gun violence and rogue authorities on domestic soil, is quick to warn its citizens to steer clear of nations known to have civil unrest, war zones or police or military forces prone to violence. In fact, just this month America’s State Department issued five travel advisories, most recently in response to increased violence in Venezuela and Iraq.

This week, an independent nation that is still technically part of the British Commonwealth, “The Bahamas,” joined three other foreign nations and took special steps to protect its citizens who were foolish enough to travel to a dangerous and violence-prone nation: the United States of America.

The list of counties, likely to grow, that care about the safety of their citizen tourists to America are the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and New Zealand.

The Bahamas joined those nations in warning travelers to stay away from large crowds because of the high potential for violence; and when they say violence, they are not referring to anything but gun violence likely committed by law enforcement.

Of course, a nation warning its citizens to be wary of traveling to America is nothing new. Last year after “several high-profile incidents of police violence,” France issued a similar advisory and reminded its citizens traveling to America to “keep calm in all circumstances” because guns are nearly always involved.

On Friday, the Bahamian government issued a travel warning cautioning its citizens about the increasing police violence in America that primarily targets “young black males.” The statement read in part:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration has taken a note of the recent tensions in some American cities over shootings of young black males by police officers. We wish to advise all Bahamians traveling to the US, but especially to the affected cities to exercise appropriate caution generally. In particular young males are asked to exercise extreme caution in affected cities in their interactions with the police. Do not be confrontational and cooperate.”

The government Ministry also warned Bahamian citizens, predominately Black, to “not get involved in political or other demonstrations under any circumstances and avoid crowds.”

Interestingly, the Bahamian government’s warning is nearly the same as some leaders in America are issuing to African American citizens, especially African American males. The various nations’ travel advisories are in response to, not the ambush killings in Dallas, but the recent execution deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling at the hands of police. Likely some consideration was given to the sniper attack on police in Dallas that informs the warning to “avoid crowds,” although after demonstrators have been attacked by law enforcement with impunity, the warning was more general and not specific to Dallas; think Baltimore and Ferguson.

What is revealing about the Bahamian and other nations’ warning to use extreme caution in America, is that around the world foreigners see what comatose Americans, Republicans, and white supremacists refuse to acknowledge: it is hazardous and an existential threat to be Black in America. And, what is worse yet is that few Americans seem humiliated that the rest of the world considers America a dangerous nation due to both the proliferation of firearms and the predilection of many in law enforcement to use force, often deadly force, against innocent American citizens who also happen to be Black.

For example, on Friday during a peaceful and constitutionally-protected right to demonstrate against police violence against African Americans in Phoenix, Arizona, the police deployed pepper spray and fired bean bags at protestors. Now, those police officers all swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, but like violating young African American males’ constitutionally-guaranteed due process rights, the police violated the protestors’ First Amendment right to assemble.

What should be informative to Americans is that according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), violent crime in America is at its lowest point in decades and it has been declining steadily. Of course, violent crime statistics do not include law enforcement murdering African American males. Obviously it would be humiliating for the nation to have a special category for “violent crime against African Americans by law enforcement.” But even without that kind of special category, officials with the Bahamian government, like their counterparts in New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, are observant enough to know that dark-skinned people in America have to exercise extreme caution, particularly in and around police and in large crowds.

Conservatives love spouting how exceptional America is, and to be fair this country does have many exceptional qualities; it is just difficult at times to acknowledge them through the regular reports of police killing African Americans. For the Bahamian Ministry of Environment and Housing and the Bahama’s Consulate General in New York, those recurring killings of African Americans prompted them to issue official  travel warnings as well as post them on Facebook for the entire world to see.

After the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration warned Bahamian citizens that it had taken note of racial tensions over shootings of young black males by police officers, it ended its warning by telling its citizens, “Be safe… and be sensible.” If the Bahamian authorities were seriously concerned with their countrymen’s safety in America, they would have said, “be safe and be sensible and stay away from America” because it is becoming increasing hazardous to be Black in America and few Americans are ashamed.