On the other hand, this alienation is also born of resentment of years of discrimination and hostility, as symbolized by the use of racial epithets that gained wide attention in the aftermath of the murder. There has been much talk of a massive, ugly backlash.
So what were the long-term consequences of the O.J. Simpson case, anyway?
One of the most remarkable non-events in contemporary American politics is the virtually complete disappearance of the issue of race from the national debate--only to reappear, with a vengeance, across the ocean, in Europe. Less than a decade ago, the O.J. Simpson trial--occurring three years after the L.A. riots, and 4 years after the Crown Heights riots--seemed to demonstrate a vast, impenetrable wall of hostility and fury along the American racial divide. Tons of ink and millions of pixels were used up discussing this divide, its causes, its implications and its possible solutions. Today, while Europeans grapple with the same thorny issues (with the same air of earnest gravity), Americans barely give the issue a passing thought. People on both continents would surely benefit from knowing how that remarkable transformation occurred.
Some possible factors:
On the other hand, racial tension seemed to be on the decline even before 9/11, and the actual evidence regarding 9/11's effect is ambiguous.
On the other hand, isolated crime-related racial conflicts over racial profiling and police shootings (for example, in Cincinnati) have continued, despite plummeting crime rates.
On the other hand, racial integration--widely considered an indicator of long-term progress in race relations--increased only modestly, and in some ways actually decreased, during the 1990s.
As you can see, there are many somewhat plausible explanations, and none of them are without compelling counterarguments. Readers are encouraged to offer their own diagnoses, by posting comments. Perhaps our European onlookers will be able to use our ideas to help them identify possible solutions to their own version of the same problem.