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What are we to make of the speed with which the new climate of national solidarity emerged after September 11? Does it not look strange against a backdrop of the much-touted divisiveness of American life?
In truth, The Fractious Nation? makes clear, the contrast of the time of divisiveness before and the time of unity that followed is much too stark, indeed.
Less than a year before two planes slammed into the World Trade Center, the 2000 presidential election produced not just the starkly blue and red electoral map but also the two tribal Americas those totemic colors emblazoned. And from the cultural wars to immigration restriction, from the Christian right to political correctness, recent decades have witnessed much hand-wringing on the left and the right about the fragmentation of American life. The Fractious Nation? enlists the critical intelligence of fourteen distinguished contributors who illuminate the schisms in American life and the often volatile debates they have inspired in the realms of culture, ethnic and racial pluralism, and political life.
The collective wisdom of The Fractious Nation? suggests a counterview to all the overheated rhetoric. The authors warn against fixating on flamboyant incidents of racial conflict when black-and-white values overlap considerably. On a range of cultural issues, the gap between our citizens has closed as well. And even as the rivalry between liberalism and conservatism transmutes into new forms, the political center remains vital and democratic. We are tied together not just by shared values but by institutions—the Constitution, the culture of consumption, the etiquette of ethnic respect.
In private life and public affairs, our nation has expanded the meaning of democratic citizenship. Still, there's no room for self-congratulations here. Tendencies toward preoccupation with private life encourage indifference to the suffering of the less privileged. This is also one of the main failings of the narrative of fragmentation:
In its focus on matters of shared values, it too distracts from issues of poverty and inequality that also fragment the human spirit.
Contributors: Richard Bernstein, John J. DiIulio Jr., Paul DiMaggio, E.J. Dionne, Jr., Kevin Gaines, Jennifer Hochschild, Douglas S. Massey, Martha Minow, Cecilia Muñoz, Jonathan Rieder, Theda Skocpol, Paul Starr, Mary C. Waters, Jack Wertheimer
Introduction: The Fractious Nation?
l. Getting a Fix on Fragmentation: "Breakdown" as Estimation Error, Rhetorical Strategy, and Organizational Accomplishment
PART 1. MOREAL UNITY, MORAL DIVISION
2. The Fetish of Difference
3. Fragments or Ties? The Defense of Difference
4. The Myth of Culture War: The Disparity between Private Opinion and Public Politics
5. America’s Jews: Highly Fragmented,
PART 2. REFIGURING THE BOUNDARIES OF CITIZENSHIP: RACE, IMMIGRATION, AND NATIONAL BELONGING
6. Once Again, Strangers on Our Shores
Mary C. Waters
7. Expelling Newcomers: The Eclipse of Constitutional Community
8. The United States in the World Community: The Limits of National Sovereignty
Douglas S. Massey
9. "Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?": Narrowing the Enduring Divisions of Race
10. The Ambivalence of Citizenship: African-American
Intellectuals in Search of Community
PART 3. UNITY AND DIVISION IN THE POLITICAL REALM
11. Social Provision and Civic Community: Beyond Fragmentation
12. Stable Fragmentation in Multicultural America
13. The Moral Compassion of True Conservatism
John J. DiIulio Jr.
14. Shaking Off the Past:
Third Ways, Fourth Ways, and the Urgency of Politics
E.J. Dionne Jr.
Into the Unknown: Unity and Conflict after September 11, 2001
List of Contributors