Significant legal history with lessons for all citizens.

YOU ARE NOT AMERICAN

CITIZENSHIP STRIPPING FROM DRED SCOTT TO THE DREAMERS

A sharp history that shows the precarious nature of American citizenship.

As law professor Frost demonstrates in this crisp, concise book, the revocation of citizenship from native-born or naturalized individuals often stems from the desire to deprive individuals and/or groups of their political and civil rights, with an eye toward deportation. The overarching intention is to shape society to the prevailing ideological moment, to ensure that anti-establishment forces don’t “taint” the nation’s “purity” or challenge the hegemony of White leadership. Frost uses the stories of individual actors, from Emma Goldman to Robert E. Lee to Dred and Harriet Scott, to fill out the bigger picture of the government’s assault upon—or at least selective reading of—the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. It’s a sorry tale that Frost narrates engagingly, digging into the ever shifting racial boundaries of citizenship as well as the unconstitutional deployment of denaturalization initiatives. Frost explores how a wide range of factors, including race, ethnicity, and religious and political preferences, have sparked the state to intervene to maintain the status quo. “Denaturalization is most often associated with totalitarian regimes such as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union,” writes the author. “But by the end of the twentieth century, the US government had denaturalized at least twenty-two thousand people—more than any other democracy before or since. The effect of the denaturalization campaign was to silence those who might otherwise have taken on leadership positions in politics, journalism, and the labor movement. By publicly targeting [certain] men and women…the government hoped to intimidate into silence tens of thousands of foreign-born citizens who were similarly vulnerable.” In the 21st century, the citizenship debate continues to be heated and controversial—but still revolves around the state’s power to deny the rights of “undesirables.” The takeaway is that citizenship is conditional, a fact that is hardly news for Dreamers across the U.S.

Significant legal history with lessons for all citizens.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8070-5142-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

LIBERALISM AND ITS DISCONTENTS

The renowned political scientist and philosopher considers classical liberalism and the broad range of enemies arrayed against it.

“By ‘liberalism,’ ” writes Fukuyama, “I refer to the doctrine…that argued for the limitation of the powers of governments through law and ultimately constitutions, creating institutions protecting the rights of individuals living under their jurisdiction.” Born of events such as the English civil war and the Enlightenment, this liberalism also encouraged diversity of thought, religion, and ethnicity, placing it squarely in the crosshairs of today’s authoritarian nationalists, not least Donald Trump. Fukuyama has often been identified with conservative causes, but his thinking here is democratic to the core, and he has no use for such pathetic lies as Trump’s insistence that the 2020 election was stolen. That said, the author notes that liberalism has many enemies on both the left and the right for numerous real yet correctable failings. The neoliberalism that has emerged over the past couple of generations has accelerated inequality, and numerous institutions have been eroded while others, such as the Electoral College, have been revealed to be anti-democratic. Both left and right, the author argues, have trouble accepting that governing over diversity, the hallmark of liberalism, means governing over many ethnic and national groups, strata of income, and competing interests. He adds, however, “Left-of-center voters…remain much more diverse” in political outlook. Essential to a liberal society, Fukuyama insists, is the right to vote: “Voting rights are fundamental rights that need to be defended by the power of the national government.” While he insists that individual rights take precedence over group rights, he also observes that the social contract demands citizen participation. To the conservative charge that the social contract is one thing but the “common moral horizon” another, he answers that yes, liberalism does not insist on a single morality—which “is indeed a feature and not a bug.”

A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60671-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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