Liberal Racism: How Fixating on Race Subverts the American Dream / Edition 2

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Overview

Liberalism seems poised for a renewal, but its chances for creating a visionary program for the next century are jeopardized by racial contradictions and confusions that continue to appear in its social policy. Instead of the colorblind society once promised by the left, we inhabit a country seething with racial resentments. With uncompromising clarity, Jim Sleeper discusses what liberals need to do to return their political movement to the vital center. Along the way, Sleeper punctures liberal pieties to reveal politicians and journalists still stymied by race, impotent in the face of conservative racism, and paralyzed by a guilt that neither advances social justice nor helps fashion a common American identity. Jim Sleeper challenges us to transcend race, to reject the foolish policies and attitudes that have only reinforced racial divisions, and to weave a social fabric sturdy enough to sustain the values upon which this country was founded. Now available in paperback with a substantial new introduction, Liberal Racism: How Fixating on Race Subverts the American Dream is sure to reawaken and re-energize the debate surrounding race and ethnicity.

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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times
Like other writers, Jim Sleeper emphasizes the importance of overcoming a fragmenting culture, but he has a keener sense of the role of market capitalism, as well as liberal ideology. His Liberal Racism is the most intellectually sophisticated of these critiques, the most resistant to ideological formula. It is also the only one that treats race relations as more than a crisis in black and white.
— Jackson Lears
The Washington Post
A lot of us would agree with Sleeper that if you scratch through the surface of skin color, you will find a good deal of common morality—mostly based on the primacy of individual character and integrity.
— William Raspberry
Chicago Tribune
In this short, highly accessible, and often insightful book, Sleeper scores several strong points . . . the liberal left has always been compelled to use race instead of class to bring about social change and has become trapped in this strategy by a combination of genuine puritanical moralism about racism and sheer political opportunism.
— Gerald Early
The New York Times
If race is a concept with dubious biological and philosophical foundations, why continue to validate it? Why not argue, as Sleeper has done, for a more nuanced accommodation and celebration of ethnic differences and abandon the theoretical construct race and its destructive corollary, racism?
— Mary Lefkowitz
Slate
Sleeper elaborates a compelling alternative to current liberal thinking, one that combines stalwart integrationist principles with a deep concern about the wretched conditions of millions of black Americans.
— Sean Wilentz
Newsday
Like a Toto in Oz, Jim Sleeper has made his mark lifting the curtain on liberal racism's inconsistencies and hypocrisies. Sleeper's discerning eye details a host of political absurdities, and his lucid prose is a pleasure to read.
— Salim Muwakkil
Commonweal
Jim Sleeper has written an important book that deserves to be read and carefully considered, especially if Americans are going to engage fruitfully in that 'national conversation' about race that President Bill Clinton has promised. Sleeper's essays on black identity and what he contends is our lost civic culture are particularly strong, especially the chapter focusing on Harvard Law Prof. Randall Kennedy and Boston University economist Glen Loury, two of the most thoughtful and intriguing black intellectuals in the nation today.
— Don Wycliff
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sleeper will be called a whiner, a bellyacher, even a racist. Of course, of course. But he is a liberal whose knee does not jerk. He has been examining liberals' rejection of a common American civic culture for several years, but nothing he has written is as candid as what he gives us here. . . . These are words liberals need to hear. They need to hear them because they are true.
— Michael Skube
The Dallas Morning News
To read this frequently brilliant book is to realize just how far we have gone toward exalting race and racial differences as the dominant realities of our civic life. Sleeper's strict and sweeping definition of liberal racism catches many of us—Democrats and Republicans alike—in its net.
— Chris Tucker
Los Angeles Times - Ronald Brownstein
To truly inspire a new dialogue on race, President Clinton will need to push further. Jim Sleeper frames the challenge well: 'Our best leaders are those who show their neighbors, every day, how to leave subgroup loyalties behind at the doors of classrooms, jury rooms, hiring halls. . .' That's far better advice than anything Clinton's advisory panel has offered so far.
John Patrick Diggins
Jim Sleeper courageously writes abut what can only be whispered in the Academy and in the bowels of bureaucracy: an identity politics that refuses to identify itself.
The Washington Post - Eric Liu
Sleeper doesn't sneer; he argues skillfully and persuasively. And he takes pains to make Liberal Racism a critique of the left, not an endorsement of the right. . . . If he is particularly disappointed in liberals, Sleeper tells us, it is only because he expects more of them in the first place.
Chicago Tribune - Gerald Early
In this short, highly accessible, and often insightful book, Sleeper scores several strong points . . . the liberal left has always been compelled to use race instead of class to bring about social change and has become trapped in this strategy by a combination of genuine puritanical moralism about racism and sheer political opportunism.
The New York Times - Mary Lefkowitz
If race is a concept with dubious biological and philosophical foundations, why continue to validate it? Why not argue, as Sleeper has done, for a more nuanced accommodation and celebration of ethnic differences and abandon the theoretical construct race and its destructive corollary, racism?
Slate - Sean Wilentz
Sleeper elaborates a compelling alternative to current liberal thinking, one that combines stalwart integrationist principles with a deep concern about the wretched conditions of millions of black Americans.
Newsday - Salim Muwakkil
Like a Toto in Oz, Jim Sleeper has made his mark lifting the curtain on liberal racism's inconsistencies and hypocrisies. Sleeper's discerning eye details a host of political absurdities, and his lucid prose is a pleasure to read.
David Nicholson
A tough-minded, provocative indictment of the failure of liberalism in the post-Civil Rights era. . . . A much needed corrective to race-based thinking that has proven unproductive.
C. Eric Lincoln
Jim Sleeper's provocative confrontation with liberal ideology is no defense of the conservative approach to race. Rather he challenges liberals, who once fought to help America rise above color, to get back to their abandoned program of a transracial civic faith. Read Liberal Racism and then, if you dare, take a long look in the mirror.
The Washington Post - William Raspberry
A lot of us would agree with Sleeper that if you scratch through the surface of skin color, you will find a good deal of common morality—mostly based on the primacy of individual character and integrity.
Commonweal - Don Wycliff
Jim Sleeper has written an important book that deserves to be read and carefully considered, especially if Americans are going to engage fruitfully in that 'national conversation' about race that President Bill Clinton has promised. Sleeper's essays on black identity and what he contends is our lost civic culture are particularly strong, especially the chapter focusing on Harvard Law Prof. Randall Kennedy and Boston University economist Glen Loury, two of the most thoughtful and intriguing black intellectuals in the nation today.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - Michael Skube
Sleeper will be called a whiner, a bellyacher, even a racist. Of course, of course. But he is a liberal whose knee does not jerk. He has been examining liberals' rejection of a common American civic culture for several years, but nothing he has written is as candid as what he gives us here. . . . These are words liberals need to hear. They need to hear them because they are true.
The Dallas Morning News - Chris Tucker
To read this frequently brilliant book is to realize just how far we have gone toward exalting race and racial differences as the dominant realities of our civic life. Sleeper's strict and sweeping definition of liberal racism catches many of us—Democrats and Republicans alike—in its net.
Los Angeles Times - Jackson Lears
Like other writers, Jim Sleeper emphasizes the importance of overcoming a fragmenting culture, but he has a keener sense of the role of market capitalism, as well as liberal ideology. His Liberal Racism is the most intellectually sophisticated of these critiques, the most resistant to ideological formula. It is also the only one that treats race relations as more than a crisis in black and white.
Jackson Lears
Like other writers, Jim Sleeper emphasizes the importance of overcoming a fragmenting culture, but he has a keener sense of the role of market capitalism, as well as liberal ideology. His Liberal Racism is the most intellectually sophisticated of these critiques, the most resistant to ideological formula. it is also the only one that treats race relations as more than a crisis in black and white. -- Los Angeles Times
Sean Wilentz
A compelling alternative to current liberal thinking, one that combines stalwart integrationist principles with a deep concern about the wrentched conditions of millions of black Americans. -- Slate
Eric Liu
Skillfully and persuasively argued...Sleeper takes pains to make his book a critique of the left, not an endorsement of the right. -- The Washington Post
Don Wycliff
Sleeper's essays on black identity and what he contends is our lost civic culture are particularly strong, especially the chapter on Harvard Law Professor Randall Kennedy and Boston University economist Glenn Loury, two of the most thoughtful and intriguing black intellectuals in the nation today. -- Commonweal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742522015
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/15/2002
  • Edition description: New
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 8.46 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Sleeper is a writer on urban politics and civic culture, and has been a politcal columnist for The New York Daily News. His commentary has appeared in Harper's, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Washington Monthly, The Nation, The Weekly Standard, The New Leader, and others.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Life After Diversity Chapter 2 Innocence by Association Chapter 3 Voting Wrongs Chapter 4 Media Myopia Chapter 5 Way Out of Africa Chapter 6 Many Colors, One Culture? Chapter 7 What We Have Lost Chapter 8 A Country Beyond Race

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