Though I don’t believe the inherent morality of humankind is improving with time, the available technology, and particularly our ready access to information, absolutely has. In Jackson’s era, it was possible to go one’s entire life believing racist things that were never disproved within one’s immediate frame of reference. In our current information-laden era, in contrast, it is possible to go to websites whose express purpose is to research rumor and belief and articulate their factual underpinnings — and we have ample scientific evidence negating the idea of racial superiority. Further, the entire nation literally just lived through eight years of efficient governance by a Harvard-educated black man. No one is saying that Obama was not an effective President; in fact, the common Breitbartian complaint and battle cry is that it’s necessary to undo all that President Obama accomplished–because that is a long list.
In other words, antebellum America had commonplace racist beliefs and rigid societal structure that strongly restricted disproof of these beliefs. We, in contrast, have ready access to Snopes and a black President.
This is probably obvious to you, as well it should be, but it also has an important corollary that I haven’t heard anyone talking about:
In this era of ready information, belief in the myth of white supremacy requires more than mere ignorance; it requires active and intentional disregard of available knowledge. For this idea to find purchase, it must be inherently more comforting to the recipient than an acceptance of meritocracy. The myth of supremacy is a security blanket that white racists are refusing to outgrow, and rather than accepting facts they are cocooning themselves in untrustworthy and laughably false information in order to protect the myth. There is no ‘empathy’ that will get around this, because it is the reaction to the myth of superiority that is driving it and the person has already preemptively rejected egalitarian progress.
This is why it is so hard to ‘go high when they go low.’ This is why ‘meeting people halfway’ is a myth. White supremacy in this day and age is a primitive ego defense driven by an ugly desire to see other people fail, and it actively drives society backward.