OPINION / OBSERVER
US values to change as white population diminishes
Published: Jun 13, 2020 11:08 AM

Protesters fill Washington Square Park during a peaceful protest against police brutality and racism on June 6, 2020 in New York. Photo: AFP



The US is in real big trouble. Although the ongoing protests against racial discrimination are more like an anger-venting campaign launched by African Americans as they have neither formed a guiding principle nor set a clear-cut goal as with the civil rights movement in the 1960s, the fierce demands of the protesters have somewhat reverberated in the US politics.

The right-wing conservatives have depreciated the protesters who toppled statues of explorer Christopher Columbus and removed historic symbols of the white's rule for launching the US version of "cultural revolution." US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called for the removal of 11 Confederate statues from the Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection. Some senior officials in the military are sympathetic with or take an ambiguous attitude toward those calling to change the names of American military bases that bear the names of Confederate officers. A co-creator of US hit sitcom Friends regretted the mistake that there was no black in the cast. These indicate the protests have had some deep historical and cultural impacts. 

The US values system dominated by white people is shaking. There are multiple reasons, but the most important one, I think, is that quiet changes are taking place in US demographics. During the civil rights movement in the 1960s, confronted by the black's long-term struggle and strong demands, the white elites made concessions based on reason. This led to a black-white reconciliation at that time. 

The protests and riots erupted abruptly this time. Although they have lasted for only a short time and caused limited destruction, differences have taken place among US elites quickly. The Democrats have taken a sympathetic attitude toward the movement. An underlying reason is that the number of minorities in the US put together is large. It has become obscure to determine which is more politically safe - to take a friendly attitude toward them or reject their demands. 

US President Donald Trump has still insisted on the values of white supremacy. This is partly because he has no other choice but to stick to his previous stance, and the current social division could help consolidate his base. But there is doubt whether doing this could help him win the reelection. Senior military officers are distancing themselves from Trump, and it's not a good sign.  

White people comprise only 52 percent of the US population, which makes it difficult to sustain the dominance of white supremacists. The numbers of Latin Americans and blacks are rising, and it's inevitable that the US values system will become more diverse. Choosing to stand with blacks and other minorities may not be an accurate option before the November election, but it's a bet worth trying. Therefore, 80-year-old Pelosi knelt on Monday for 8 minutes and 46 seconds at Emancipation Hall at the US Capitol. 

White supremacy will eventually come to a dead end in the US. The mainstream values and historical views will gradually change. This will be a revolutionary process for American society, and will lead to a lot of entanglements, conflicts, and even pain. It is hard to say whether the US political and legal system that was built under the dominance of the whites can deal with these changes smoothly. The US is facing uneasy challenges both at home and abroad in the coming decades. Historians will be particularly interested in what happens next. 

The author is editor-in-chief of the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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