Trump has revived one of the Republicans' most durable themes: raceby Sam Tanenhaus / August 1, 2016 / Leave a comment
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With his convention-eve promise to preserve “law and order” following the July sniper-killing of five police officers in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Donald Trump—putative outsider, interloper, hijacker, wrecking-ball—revived one of the modern Republican Party’s most durable themes, rooted in response (fearful and angry) to the violent discords of the 1960s.
Almost fifty years after a presidential commission warned that America “is moving toward two societies, one black, one white,” race remains the great unsolvable problem in American politics, society, culture. And it has been so from the beginning. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence—one of history’s great calls for freedom—relied on slave labor to build his mountaintop Xanadu in Virginia. The contradiction was as blatant then as it seems today. “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?” Samuel Johnson wondered at time time of the Revolution. Edmund Burke had an answer. It was true, “in Virginia and the Carolinas they have a vast multitude of slaves,” he acknowledged. “Where this is the case in any part of the world, those who are free, are by far the most proud and jealous of their freedom. Freedom is to them not only an enjoyment, but a kind of rank and privilege.”