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A Colony in a Nation
     

A Colony in a Nation

by Chris Hayes
 

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New York Times best-selling author and Emmy Award–winning news anchor Chris Hayes argues that there are really two Americas: a Colony and a Nation.

America likes to tell itself that it inhabits a postracial world, yet nearly every empirical measure—wealth, unemployment, incarceration, school segregation—reveals that racial

Overview

New York Times best-selling author and Emmy Award–winning news anchor Chris Hayes argues that there are really two Americas: a Colony and a Nation.

America likes to tell itself that it inhabits a postracial world, yet nearly every empirical measure—wealth, unemployment, incarceration, school segregation—reveals that racial inequality has barely improved since 1968, when Richard Nixon became our first “law and order” president. With the clarity and originality that distinguished his prescient bestseller, Twilight of the Elites, Chris Hayes upends our national conversation on policing and democracy in a book of wide-ranging historical, social, and political analysis.

Hayes contends our country has fractured in two: the Colony and the Nation. In the Nation, we venerate the law. In the Colony, we obsess over order, fear trumps civil rights, and aggressive policing resembles occupation. A Colony in a Nation explains how a country founded on justice now looks like something uncomfortably close to a police state. How and why did Americans build a system where conditions in Ferguson and West Baltimore mirror those that sparked the American Revolution?

A Colony in a Nation examines the surge in crime that began in the 1960s and peaked in the 1990s, and the unprecedented decline that followed. Drawing on close-hand reporting at flashpoints of racial conflict, as well as deeply personal experiences with policing, Hayes explores cultural touchstones, from the influential “broken windows” theory to the “squeegee men” of late-1980s Manhattan, to show how fear causes us to make dangerous and unfortunate choices, both in our society and at the personal level. With great empathy, he seeks to understand the challenges of policing communities haunted by the omnipresent threat of guns. Most important, he shows that a more democratic and sympathetic justice system already exists—in a place we least suspect.

A Colony in a Nation is an essential book—searing and insightful—that will reframe our thinking about law and order in the years to come.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/09/2017
Hayes (Twilight of the Elites), host of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, has written a laser-focused, necessary book about U.S. race relations, primarily the black experience, and law and order as they are experienced across the country. Hayes’s main assertion is that the criminal justice system creates two separate Americas with borders drawn along racial lines—the “nation,” or white America, with methods of policing characteristic of a democracy that respects the basic rights of its citizenry, and the “colony,” black America, which is policed like an occupied state, trampling on the civil liberties of its inhabitants. Hayes’s book has a strong through-line comparing the concepts of law and order. Law is defined in the commonly understood sense, while order is explained as a tool used by the state, through the police, to maintain the status quo. The author also ties in the related problem of our status as the most incarcerated nation in the world and why this punitive system is ineffective. This is an important, persuasive book that, if read, can help Americans begin to heal the divide between these two nations. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
A Colony in a Nation is a highly original analysis of America’s arbitrary and erratic criminal justice system. Indeed, by Hayes's lights, the system is not erratic at all—it treats one group of Americans as citizens, and another as the colonized. This is an essential and ground-breaking text in the effort to understand how American criminal justice went so badly awry.” -Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between the World and Me

“A timely and impassioned argument for social justice.” - Kirkus

“Important, persuasive… [A Colony in a Nation] can help Americans begin to heal.”” - Publishers Weekly

Ta-Nehisi Coates
“A Colony in a Nation is a highly original analysis of America’s arbitrary and erratic criminal justice system. Indeed, by Hayes's lights, the system is not erratic at all—it treats one group of Americans as citizens, and another as the colonized. This is an essential and ground-breaking text in the effort to understand how American criminal justice went so badly awry.”
Library Journal
★ 02/01/2017
In his latest work, MSNBC commentator, Nation journalist, and best-selling author (Twilight of the Elites) Hayes uses personal experience, historical research, and field work to explore America's continuing racism. Specifically, he examines how throughout history majority populations have come to see minorities as a problem to be solved, and how fear is used to justify attacks on civil rights. Hayes's thesis is that contemporary America, in light of recent events in Ferguson, MO, and Baltimore, exemplifies its racial past. The United States may have emerged from a former British colony to a country that has finally achieved superpower status, but this nation still has a colony within its midst; for example, African American ghettos. In essence, these comprise a "third world" entity. Hayes maintains that the source of these colonies is "white fear." Aggressive policing puts the nation in the same place as former Colonial authorities, and current incarceration rates exacerbate the issue. VERDICT This readable and thoughtful work will appeal to readers interested in civil rights and criminal justice, and is especially insightful when considering why Colonists originally rebelled in 1776.—William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport
Kirkus Reviews
2016-12-14
Profound contrasts in policing and incarceration reveal disparate Americas.MSNBC host and editor at large of the Nation, Hayes (Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy, 2013, etc.) expands the investigation of inequality begun in his previous book by focusing on law and order. Offering a persuasive analysis, he distinguishes between the Nation, inhabited by the "affluent, white, elite," and the Colony, largely urban, poor, "overwhelmingly black and brown" but increasingly including working-class whites. The criminal justice system, argues Hayes, is vastly different for each: "One (the Nation) is the kind of policing regime you expect in a democracy; the other (the Colony) is the kind you expect in an occupied land." In the Colony, "real democratic accountability is lacking and police behave like occupying soldiers in restive and dangerous territory." Law enforcement, as noted by law professor Seth Stoughton, takes a "warrior worldview" in which "officers are locked in intermittent and unpredictable combat with unknown but highly lethal enemies." Acknowledging that America has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, Hayes traces the country's history of punishment to the experience of European settlers who, "outnumbered and afraid," responded with violence. Between 1993 and 2014, although the crime rate declined significantly, most Americans feel that crime has increased and therefore support aggressive police action. Furthermore, although most crime occurs intraracially, the Nation believes that the Colony is a constant, insidious threat; unmistakably, "we have moved the object of our concern from crime to criminals, from acts to essences." Among other rich democracies, ours is the only one with the death penalty. Whereas in Europe, humane treatment has been widely instituted, in the U.S., perpetrators are treated as unredeemable. "The American justice system is all about wrath and punishment," the author asserts. Arguing for the erasure of borders between Nation and Colony, Hayes admits, regretfully, that such change might fundamentally alter the comfortable sense of order that he, and other members of the Nation, prizes. A timely and impassioned argument for social justice.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393254235
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
03/21/2017
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
119,539

Meet the Author

Chris Hayes is the Emmy Award–winning host of All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, the New York Times best-selling author of Twilight of the Elites, and an editor-at-large at The Nation. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, daughter, and son.