We remain a nation of immigrants, with Native Americans among the smallest of our minorities. We have evolved from a country dominated almost exclusively by white Christian males into one of unprecedented diversity. We are now home to a multiplicity of racial, ethnic, religious and cultural groups. Women have gained rights, privileges, wealth and power that would have been unimaginable to prior generations. The LGBTQ community has emerged as a viable political, social and economic component of our society after centuries of oppression and ridicule. Our English speaking society is challenged by demands for bilingualism from our rapidly growing Hispanic population. The reactions to these changes have not been uniformly positive. Notwithstanding the election (and re-election) of an African-American U.S. President, we have witnessed yet another resurgence of racist rhetoric and racially motivated violence. ,For each step forward, there seems to be a step back. For example, while gay marriage was held to be a constitutional right by the U.S. Supreme Court, the prohibition against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation under Title VII may not survive the next Court decision.
It’s easy to say that those persons opposing these rapid changes should buck up and just accept it. It’s not so easy to make that kind of acceptance happen, especially for those groups who have borne more than their share of the economic downside of our ever increasing economic inequality. These rapid social changes may have contributed to the fracturing and polarization of American society. For example, we hear opposing sides cry Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter and even White Lives Matter, when it’s obvious that all lives matter. We have seen a public resurgence of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups. Anti-Semitic violence has dramatically increased, including the widely publicized mass killing outside Pittsburgh, ironically nearly 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz. According to the FBI, hate crimes in the US, including violence against Latinos, Muslims, and other ethnic and religious groups, hit a 16 year high in 2018.
We are going in the wrong direction. We need to get all Americans back on the same page: tolerance for, and understanding of, all the different types of people in our big melting pot. We need creative, nonpartisan ideas about how we can better approach that goal. Admittedly, things may never be perfect in this area but there is plenty of room for improvement.