The danger of taking for granted that America is a just society

If we permit injustice against some — which we most certainly do — we have no assurance we will always be judged worthy of justice ourselves

America Trust
(Image credit: (Mark Wilson/Getty Images))

From Michael Brown to Eric Garner to the torture report, America has had a rough few weeks. It's become so bad that the fundamental idea of America, the one of pledges and anthems and declarations, is looking more like an insincere aspiration than it has for some time. Ours does not appear to be a particularly just society. And there is a danger in us clinging to the illusion that justice still reigns in America.

This is easy to write, but it's not nearly as easy to believe or truly accept. National myths persist precisely because they provide a bulwark against a difficult reality. More than that, though, to believe that in America outcomes do not reliably correspond with merit is, for anyone in a reasonably secure station or who has ascended to a higher station, to confess that our own status is at least in part arbitrary.

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