Two other things not directly related to police behavior, however, are happening. First, the pressure to remove Confederate monuments from public spaces seems finally to have become overwhelming. Some have already been forcibly taken down, and many, if not most, of the others soon will be. This will include some of the statues in the US Capitol, of which each state has provided two for over a century. It was rather astonishing even in the decades after the Civil War that states such as Mississippi would choose to send statues of men who defied the government of which the Capitol was a key role, but they did. At least one state, Arkansas, is already replacing its statues, and I hope others do too. I also think that the military installations named after Confederate generals will be renamed. That issue has divided President Trump even from his own party, and I think there's a good chance that he will have to abandon his opposition. These are very welcome developments, finally confirming, 155 years after Appomattox, that the right side won the war.
Meanwhile, institutions such as media outlets and corporations are adopting a principle that has ruled colleges and universities for some time. That principle holds that much of the injustice of racism consists in the emotional harm it inflicts upon its targets, and that white people must therefore defer to nonwhites when they protest that any policy, symbol, or even published idea strikes them as racist. An editor at the op-ed page of the New York Times lost his job because black reporters on the paper felt that a column he published by a U.S. Senator, a coming man within the Republican Party, put them at physical risk, because it called for the deployment of troops in American cities. A number of other jobs have been lost because of tweets or remarks deemed insensitive. HBO Max has dropped Gone From the Wind from is lineup because it includes racial stereotypes and a relatively positive view of slavery. I have done a number of posts here over the years about the postmodern ideology which such steps represent, and now is not the time to repeat them. The consequences of this development will emerge in months and years to come.
While all this is happening, our most powerful economic institutions such as the big banks and our new super-retailers are gaining even more power relative to their competitors, escaping scot free, so far, from the consequences of one of the most severe economic downturns in American history. The problem that the whole bottom half of our income distribution faces--regardless of race--will only get worse. The Republican Party will try to ignore it, while many within the Democratic Party will continue to treat it primarily as a problem of racism--which in my opinion it is not.
The rapidity with which one issue comes out of nowhere to dominate cable news, only to disappear in favor of another, is one of the characteristics of our time. In the last six months we have lived through the impeachment crisis, the climax of the Democratic primary campaign, the pandemic, the economic crisis, and now, the crisis over race and police behavior. We still have no idea how bad our economic crisis is, and it could easily take center stage again before the election. So could the pandemic. Both the pandemic and the racial crisis have established Donald Trump as an irresponsible outlier even among many in his own party, and the chances of his re-election appear to be dropping. That is very welcome. I hope a new President will be able to find a common purpose in one or more of the crises that we now face.