Gary Younge argues in today's Guardian that racism in the US is a problem that hasn't gone away. One of the arguments he uses is this:
40 years is not a long period of time when dealing with a centuries-old problem
He also refers to 'centuries of demonisation and dehumanisation in which black men, by their very existence, [were] understood as a threat.'
I put it to you, dear readers, that it is a weak argument. It's a weak argument because we have a well-documented case of a form of racial/ethnic prejudice that is some two millennia old and yet has now totally disappeared. I'm talking about anti-Semitism. We are constantly assured that this isn't at work, not a bit of it, even when standard themes of anti-Jewish prejudice - like Jews controlling the media, or indeed the world, through their money, or Jews being child-killers - and cartoons reproducing ugly images of Jews, are being deployed; because such themes and cartoons have to be understood as merely embodying legitimate criticism of Israel.
Well, if a hatred as old as anti-Semitism can die out as quickly as it has, this shows that 'centuries of demonisation and dehumanisation' are neither here nor there.
Then again, maybe Younge is right on the point, and there is a need in certain quarters to re-think matters regarding the rapid disappearance of anti-Semitism despite the continuing recurrence of some of its traditional markers.