The defamation that police are institutionally racist because America is indelibly racist has opened a potentially unbridgeable chasm. It is abetted by two national character flaws. The first is our gravitation to political leaders capable only of making matters worse by their spitefulness and Manichean posturing.
The second is our increasingly manifest conviction that we are not worth defending. We seem convinced that there is no positive case to be made for a society that idealizes liberty and the equal dignity of every person. For a society that does not pretend to be perfect, but that strives to be better. A society that confesses its sin and works toward redemption: spilling its blood to end slavery, fighting to end de jure racism, and rejecting racial discrimination as a socially acceptable attitude.
If we do not believe we are worth preserving — humbled by our flaws, yes, but duly proud of our virtues and our historic accomplishments — we will not be preserved.
This week’s farce on Capitol Hill was not a hopeful sign.