Washington, May 17 (IANS) Former US President Barack Obama has renewed his criticism against the incumbent administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic which has so far infected 1,467,796 people and killed 88,754 others in the country.
“This pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing,” Obama said while addressing graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) on Saturday.
“A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge,” Obama said in a thinly veiled swipe at the incumbent president, though he did not mention Donald Trump by name.
After keeping a relatively low profile since leaving the White House in January 2017, Obama has become increasingly vocal in recent weeks as the Democratic Party coalesced around the man who served as his Vice President, Joe Biden, to challenge Trump in the November election, Efe news reported.
“An absolute chaotic disaster” was the phrase Obama used last week to describe Washington’s handling of COVID-19 in a conference call with veterans of his 2008-2016 administration.
While Trump, not for the first time, suggested on Thursday that it was Obama’s fault the US didn’t have enough masks and ventilators to cope with the pandemic.
In his speech on Saturday, Obama noted the statistics showing that African-Americans were dying of coronavirus in greater numbers than would be expected given that they represent only around 12 per cent of the population.
“A disease like this just spotlights the underlying inequalities and extra burdens that black communities have historically had to deal with in this country. We see it in the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on our communities,” the former leader said.
“Just as we see it when a black man goes for a jog and some folks feel like they can stop and question and shoot him if he doesn’t submit to their questioning,” Obama added, referring to the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a young African-American man in Georgia.
Two white men, a father and son, claimed they shot Arbery in self-defence while trying to make a citizen’s arrest in connection with what they said was a spate of burglaries in the neighbourhood.
“Injustice like this isn’t new,” Obama told the graduates.
“What is new is that so much of your generation has woken up to the fact that the status quo needs fixing, that the old ways of doing things don’t work.”