The Pleasures of Resentment

Many of us like the idea of Harriet Tubman replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. But will it actually lead to any reduction in the rancor of our national disagreements over race?

This has been hailed as progress in the equalisation of American society, and is typical of the gestural politics of our time. Strangely enough, though, the gestures never seem to assuage resentment, but seem rather to accentuate and aggravate it. They are never enough and more are demanded. It is a bit like the Cultural Revolution, during which no confession was ever grovelling enough for the Red Guards and no admission ever of sufficient crimes.

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