bigotry, Bill of Rights, civic engagement, community involvement, discrimination, eyes on the street, faction, freedom, Hannah Arendt, Hayek, inequality, intolerance, James Madison, Jane Jacobs, John Locke, liberty, license, Montesquieu, Niebuhr, On Revolution, partisanship, prejudice, propaganda, racism, society, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Federalist Papers, The Spirit of the Laws, The White Ribbon, xenophobia
Following most presidential elections, talk turns towards the newly elected (or re-elected) candidate, cabinet nominations, policy changes, and so forth. For the party of the losing candidate, discussions revolve around how the winning candidate achieved success, or which missteps their candidate took.
In the aftermath of the 2008 presidential election, we experienced something else: A backlash against the winning candidate, which emerged in the Birther Issue, the Faith Issue (Muslim or Christian?), so on and so forth.
For those of us who thought racism had been largely banished to the hinterlands, we were quickly reawakened to the reality. While the other side may have felt they held legitimate claims, for most Americans we uncomfortably recognized the racial (due to gender) and xenophobic (due to name) undercurrents. Racial issues and xenophobia are only two symptoms of prejudice, bigotry, partisanship, discrimination, inequality.
But how did we get here? Why, after decades of trying to eradicate these social diseases, do we still suffer them in America? Merely an intuition, in some sense these problems seem to be getting worse.
It is due, I postulate, to American citizens’ withdrawal from the public sphere, retreating to the private sphere of our homes and becoming anonymous, inconsequential, faceless individuals. We no longer understand what it means to be recognized, consequential and involved in society or, more specifically and pragmatically, in our local communities. Continue reading