Culture Wars/Current Controversies

George Floyd and the Rise of the Rival Constitution

By Craig Trainor

On May 25th, 2020, a Minneapolis police officer subdued a suspected forger by placing his knee on the suspect’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. The encounter was filmed and wildly disseminated. The suspect died as a result of several factors, including the officer’s use of excessive force. The officer was subsequently arrested, tried, and convicted of murder. By now, virtually every engaged American knows the story of George Floyd. Beyond the specific facts of the incident, history will place far greater emphasis on what transpired after his death.

The incident, along with constant broadcasting of that disturbing footage by the media, set off a firestorm of protests and riots and a national dialogue—monologue, really—about race and policing. When Christopher Caldwell wrote his penetrating history of the civil rights movement, The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties, he probably did not imagine that, only four months after the book’s appearance, race would become the primary focus of cultural thought, political discourse, and public policy, consuming every major facet of American life, including sports, music, school curricula, police practices, corporate boardrooms, and Congress.

The New York Times took the opportunity to double-down on its discredited 1619 Project. Amazon Prime felt compelled to remind me that “Black Lives Matter” as I content-surfed. Corporations rushed to create vaguely defined diversity and inclusion officers. And the current Vice President of the United States was selected on the basis of her race (and sex) rather than any particular virtue or ability or even the pragmatic need for the ticket to carry her home state of California. Whatever one’s view of this regime, its successes have been extraordinary.


Leave a Reply