US beset by acute racial conflict as strength slides

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/15 23:43:39

US President Donald Trump harshly denounced racism and white supremacy Monday, but the protesters are furious that the denunciation came two days after the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. "Two days are too late," thousands of demonstrators chanted as Trump headed to his New York home Monday for the first time since taking office.

A number of business leaders announced they would quit Trump's team of advisors.  Protesters against white supremacy in Durham, North Carolina, tore down the statue of General Robert E. Lee, leader of the Confederate forces in the Civil War, and there are more signs of racial conflict elsewhere in the country. The US seems to be struggling with chaos.

Compared with previous administrations, recently race relations have been much more strained during Trump's term. However, today's race conflicts are nothing compared with those of the 1960s and 1970s, and thus there are ways to play down the current tensions.

But the Charlottesville violence is serious as it is not an isolated affair. Apart from the long-standing divide among different ethnic groups in US society, today's racial tensions are rising under new backgrounds.

The US is seeing sliding national strength, and globalization has struck a blow to the interests of middle- and lower-class whites. This is the new source of US anxieties. If society can't work out a solution, these anxieties will be transformed into domestic issues, especially racial conflicts. The issue of race in today's US has its origin in a number of factors and thus may have staying power.

Trump said he was strongly against taking in more immigrants on the campaign trail. After assuming office, Trump is the president of all Americans, but some white supremacists still regard him as "theirs" and believe their time has come.

Social welfare resources are less abundant than before, and minority groups are increasingly competitive. The competition for welfare and other resources is unprecedentedly intense between white people and minorities, with shrinking leeway for both sides.

Racial tensions were a major human rights and political issue in the 1960s and 1970s, but now it is increasingly penetrating everyday life in the US, intertwining with many other issues.

Samuel P Huntington's Who Are We? The Challenges to America's National Identity explored the US' political and cultural divergences arising from Hispanic migration to the US, but today's racial problems are more sophisticated than those he described. Daily survival has become an important driving force in the issue of race. There are frequent reports about minorities being targets of xenophobic sentiment, and many ordinary white people, who are supposed to be meek, have joined in the racial hatred.

Uniting different racial groups is a major challenge for mainstream US society. The US president is unprecedentedly attacked by public opinion, but simultaneously supported by many.

In the past half century, the US has been vigorously interfering into other countries' affairs without being disturbed by domestic chaos. With strategic confidence, the US regards nothing as a problem. But the country is undergoing a slow, but seemingly irreversible change, which is gradually eroding the US' confidence.

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