Those that have identified themselves in their fight against racism, sexism, and prejudice have become victims of their own success.
Young blacks are better educated and getting better jobs and have not grown up to news reels of black protesters attacked with fire hoses and German Shepherds. Conservative black political figures such as Herman Cain and Allan West chip away at racist monolithic stereotypes.
But those who have staked their identity on racial divisiveness are threatened by the young who are enjoying the less prejudiced environment and who identify less with the struggles that produced the opportunities that they now take for granted.
Yes black teenagers experience high unemployment but this is the result of economic policies with good intentions disconnected from reality. Higher minimum wages and employment friction costs have led to increased unemployment of white kids and other minorities as well. In fact as education and experience factor in the problem, race explains less of the difference.
This is not limited to race. Now that women are nearly half of the new accountants, lawyers, and doctors, equality has become an expectation rather than a struggle. The women’s movement is struggling as women, now earning more money, are more concerned with taxes and government encroachment into individual rights. Now that they have the rights to the same opportunities as men, they would like to be able to keep and enjoy the fruits of their work. Women also respond to economic incentives. Leftist feminists now struggle with educated women in positions of power who are conservative and sometimes, God forbid, pro-life.
The ADL, the consummate organization fighting anti-Semitism in this country, also has to contend with its success. Anti-Semitism never caught on in this country with the violence it has in Europe and the Middle East, but even this prejudice has subsided so much the ADL has broadened its mission to focus on fighting hatreds against gays and immigrants. Their ‘No Place for Hate’ programs are representative of their new broader focus, although I find it somewhat ironic that the same voices that still shout the loudest about sexism and racism seem the most tolerant of modern anti-Semitism.
This is not to say that prejudice does not still exist and that we should be callous towards it. Gay rights is probably the new frontier of civil rights. It just means that we should recognize the progress made and adapt accordingly. Prejudice has now become more of a political tool than a cultural struggle. Revenge has become confused with justice.
The problem with winning the war against prejudice is that now the generals are no longer the center of attention and must now find other work. In a real war the generals would be delighted.