A memoir of a life devoted to defending civil rights and a scathing critique of that movement’s unfortunate decline.
Trebach (Fatal Distraction, 2006, etc.) has previously written about the criminal justice system’s abuse of minorities. He was a committed activist in the 1950s and ’60sand an official at the Civil Rights Commission, and he’s been a lifelong Democratic liberal and supporter of Barack Obama. However, he argues that the civil rights movement, and liberalism in general, has betrayed the original spirit of its cause and corroded race relations in America with craven political opportunism, incendiary race-baiting and a climate of censorship. “The race card is why our racial atmosphere is so poisonous, when we should be enjoying color-blind relations everywhere,” he writes. “That evil card is played so frequently these days that many of us sometimes don’t realize just how often it is used.” Trebach looks at the Trayvon Martin shooting case; he says that some people willfully appropriated the tragedy for the sake of declaiming racial prejudice, and he skillfully presents little-covered but pertinent details of that incident. He also considers what he feels are the abandoned promises of President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to usher the United States into a proudly post-racial era. The most unsettling target of Trebach’s analysis, though, is African-American crime, which continues to balloon at an alarming pace. He argues that intolerance of open discussion and the reflex to denounce as racist any attempt to fully investigate such crime’s causes have impeded good-faith attempts to alleviate the problem. In general, the author contends, programs that are designed by self-appointed representatives of African-Americans tend to deliver more harm than good. Written in plain prose that brims with disillusionment, this book makes an impassioned call for a politics truly free of racial discrimination, in keeping with the tenets of one of the author’s heroes, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Overall, Trebach brings a wealth of academic expertise and personal experience to these thoughtful reflections.
A timely, courageous contribution to the debate regarding racial justice in America.