A. A Dream for Reconciliation--The Power of Empathy

This Article adopts the hopeful view that most people are basically good. Human nature allows for empathy and charity--qualities born of love that become especially apparent, for example, in times of natural disasters when many go out of their way to assist others in need, regardless of race, religion, or class. It follows, arguably, that most Americans operate in good faith, and consider fairness as a core guiding principle.

This underlying desire for fairness is exemplified by the extraordinarily broad criticism of President Trump for his failure to unequivocally condemn the actions of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017. In response to the President's equivocations, the United States Congress voted unanimously to condemn displays and expressions of white supremacy.

The collective reaction to Charlottesville and the President's response-massive demonstrations, the exodus of business executives from Donald Trump's commissions, the broad denunciations by establishment Republicans, and the actions of a unanimously-united Congress--suggests, paradoxically, that a rare opportunity for progress may be at hand. The overwhelming agreement signals there is indeed something that reasonable folks--right and left--can agree upon: the utter unacceptability of white supremacy in civil society.

Might Americans of good faith from across the political spectrum be ready to engage in a thoughtful process of self-examination on the topic of racial justice? Might a bipartisan majority see the merits in addressing how manifestations of white supremacy have worked to create a massively unjust system toward people of color, and then to take steps to account for those injustices? Might our common humanity prevail over hate?

It would not be easy because Americans are more polarized today than they have been in a good long while, but this is all the more reason to try. Many Americans hunger for a greater sense of community than currently exists, and it is hard to imagine more powerful potential for unity than bipartisan efforts resulting in true progress toward addressing the systemic racial injustices that have plagued this continent for nearly four hundred years. We could all feel good about that.