Fighting Words / Edition 1

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This intriguing book reflects on the conditions on college campuses that give rise to words and acts of hate, on the consequences of these episodes, and on strategies intended to improve intergroup harmony. Using the speech given by Nation of Islam spokesperson Khalid Abdul Muhammad at Kean College in 1993, the book begins with a consideration of the societal trends affecting today's college student, including the increasing economic uncertainty that characterizes their future and the hostility and fragmentation that characterizes their present. Attitudinal changes have proven to be widespread, as more Americans have begun to view the world through the lenses of political, social, and economic self-interest, calling prevailing equity policy into question and giving new life to identity politics. Since issues of affirmative action, multiculturalism, and political correctness are at the core of the national debate and command the attention of college students, each is addressed in detail. A discussion of what prompted Kean students to invite Muhammad follows a consideration of the current status of intergroup relations on campuses across the nation. This examination covers the inescapable conclusion that, despite the desires of most students for positive relations with people of other groups, there are serious gaps to be bridged.

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Editorial Reviews

Using Nation of Islam's Halid Abdul Muhammad's speech at Kean College in 1993 as a starting point, Marcus (educational administration, Rowan College) reflects on the rise of hate acts and speeches on college campuses, bravely entering the tricky area of political correctedness. The discussions of affirmative action, identity politics, multiculturalism, regulating speech on campus, and monitoring hate groups on campuses, all have the tone of an administrator seriously concerned with a student body wishing for positive relations with one another, but besieged by fragmentation. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Kirkus Reviews
An ultimately creepy look at intolerance on campus and how it should be countered.

Like many of the good-hearted, Marcus, a professor in the Educational Administration Department of Rowan College, is captivated by the fallacy that if you can somehow cure the smallest symptoms, you have rooted out the disease. While there is little doubt that hate speech—and the racism from which it stems—is a serious societal problem, hate speech on American campuses always seems to boil down anecdotally to a few dozen frequently told and retold incidents (which Marcus makes sure we go over one more time). Yet he seems to believe that quieting the misled few among the educated, enlightened mass of college students is an important issue. And he gives it both barrels. An extended history of racism is followed by an analysis of the affirmative action debate; other chapters deal at length with such issues as college speech codes. The analysis is rarely original, but it is certainly extensive: Marcus strings together endless pages of quotes and statistics, occasionally pausing for interpolations. Using as his model the disruption caused at Kean College in 1993 by a speech by Nation of Islam's Khalid Abdul Muhamad, Marcus then looks at what colleges should and should not do to reduce hate speech. His solution is a legalistic reinterpretation of the First Amendment that—no matter how Marcus glosses over it—would allow censorship. He also champions classes in intergroup relations and a series of kindly coercive measures to make certain that everyone gets along. Regular "human relations audits" will then ensure that everything is working as planned.

Occasionally, universities have acted in loco parentis. With these measures in place, they would add another member to the family—Big Brother.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275954383
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/30/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 218
  • Lexile: 1500L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

LAURENCE R. MARCUS is a professor in the Educational Administration Department of Rowan College.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 A Changing America 1
Ch. 2 The Affirmative Action Debate 29
Ch. 3 Identity Politics, Multiculturalism, and Political Correctness 55
Ch. 4 Campus Climate 85
Ch. 5 Regulating Speech on Campus 113
Ch. 6 Dealing with Hate Speech 147
Bibliography 167
Index 183
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