Fascinating perspective here from Ross Douthat:
This future is unlikely to be as ugly as the past, because the case for formal segregation and overt racial discrimination isn’t going to come back. Nor, as I’ve said before, do I think that race is going to be the controlling cleavage of 21st century America: Already, I think religion, political ideology and social class can trump the color line as a source of polarization and division, and I expect that pattern to continue.
But I can think of a half-dozen reasons why public expressions of race-based hostility (of all sorts, not just against African Americans) might become more common, not less, as the America of the Boomers gives way to the America of the millennials. These reasons include
- the Internet’s tendency to make the taboo not-so-taboo anymore,
- our growing chronological distance from the institutional injustices whose successful overthrow made racism taboo in the first place,
- our culture’s obsession with genetic theories of just about everything,
- the fracturing of the Christian common ground that undergirded at least some of the belief in human equality,
- the way that diversity seems to increase social mistrust,
- the social gulf that increasingly yawns between upper-class whites who are invested in a multiracial society and lower-class whites who feel like losers in it,
- the potential growth of a grievance-based white identity politics as America becomes majority-minority, and
- the fact that white guilt over slavery and segregation — the foundation of the anti-racist consensus at the moment — will necessarily be a weaker cultural force in a country that’s more Hispanic, more Asian, and more non-white in general.