Books by Sara Diamond

Released: Nov. 1, 1998

A critical investigation of the persistent presence of the Christian right in contemporary American political and cultural struggles. Here Diamond continues her studies of the American political right begun in Roads to Dominion (1995) and other works, focusing this time on the diffuse yet cohesive assembly of conservative Protestant organizations collectively termed the "Christian right." How is it, she wonders, that the right's influence continues unabated, despite strong challenges to its highly conservative social agenda in the form of a liberal Democratic presidency and the general popular acceptance of issues such as abortion and gay rights? Her answer: The Christian right is many things. It's a political coalition with strong ties to and influence on the Republican Party, but it's also a subculture that provides, as she puts it, "a safe haven" when political success is not forthcoming. Through the media, church and community organizations, and other avenues, the right creates a strong ideology. The ideology propagates the notion that this is a persecuted group battling immoral enemies—e.g., abortion doctors, gay employees—in an eternal struggle between good and evil. In such a context, momentary political travails are of little consequence. The Christian right also operates at national and local levels, and with multiple strategies. While struggling for control of local schools over issues such as sex education and secular curriculum, the organization has also developed a strong network of home-schooling activists and practitioners. Finally, the right has shown the capacity to evolve. That's evident in its current emphasis on what it terms "racial reconciliation," the renunciation of a generally racist past and the active recruitment of people of color into its ranks. Thus, as Diamond points out, even those opposed to the Christian right shouldn—t simply dismiss it. Scholarship with a point of view; a highly informative case study. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1995

Sociologist Diamond writes on the four-fold mobilization of conservative power in the United States. In the past 35 years American conservatives have gone from a sometimes loud but disenfranchised group to the controlling force behind the Republican party. They have occupied the White House for 12 of the past 15 years and now have a majority in both houses of Congress. This has not been a simple process, but rather a complicated piece of mobilization and coalition-building. Diamond identifies four distinct strands within the conservative movement: anticommunists, antisegregationists, the Christian Right, and the neoconservatives. The first provided a rallying point, the second an ugly racist overtone, the third a grassroots movement left in the cold by the Reagan administration, the fourth one of the movement's cadres of intellectuals (many of them former CCNY radicals). How these four groups made common causethat David Duke should share a binding with Irving Kristolis a riveting story, sometimes a grim one. Perhaps a brief section on Rockefeller Republicanism would have added context. And there is no mention of significant phenomena such as the Cambridge-based Ripon Society of the early '70s or the very influential American Spectator. Although the book is billed as ``non-judgmental,'' Diamond clearly isn't writing from a centrist perspective. In the first paragraph of the first page of chapter one, the US drops the Bomb, while the Soviets offer ``models for . . . anti-colonial national liberation movements.'' And one continually wishes that someone had done a search-and-replace for every instance of the author's veiled hostility and snide tone. That said, Diamond's book is an absorbing, painstaking, overdue typology and elucidation of the central phenomenon in American politics of the last 20 years. Not a particularly balanced book, but a valuable one in a sparse field dominated by even more egregious cant from both sides. Read full book review >