A welcome resurrection of a forgotten riot with relevance for our current fragmented political landscape.

THE HARDHAT RIOT

NIXON, NEW YORK CITY, AND THE DAWN OF THE WHITE WORKING-CLASS REVOLUTION

An account of a mostly forgotten 1970 altercation between New York City construction workers and citizens protesting the continuing war in Southeast Asia.

The majority of the violence occurred on May 8, 1970, four days after the Kent State tragedy. Kuhn, who has written for Politico, RealClearPolitics, and CBS News, among other outlets, explains how the tension had been building for several years—and on a variety of fronts. In addition to regular protests around the country, these included the campus of Columbia University, the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the 1969 Moratorium To End the War in Vietnam, and, perhaps most significantly, within the rhetoric of Richard Nixon, both as a candidate and as president. For a few chapters, Kuhn foreshadows the violence committed by the construction workers while providing educated suppositions about why the NYPD seemed mostly unprepared to protect the protesters exercising their First Amendment rights. The graphic accounts of the violence occupy more than 80 pages, a section that ends chillingly: “The reporter asked Tallman, Would you hurt demonstrators again? ‘You bet. If they come back here Monday, we’ll give them the chase of their lives.’ ‘We’ll kill them,’ his friend added.” The author focuses not only on the construction workers, protesters, and police, but also NYC Mayor John Lindsay, who noted on the morning of May 8 that the hard hats were “out for blood today.” As Kuhn shows, Lindsay, a Republican who, two years later, “was the most liberal candidate in the Democratic race,” failed to fully grasp the combustible nature of the conflicting actors. Throughout the narrative, the author wrestles with conflicting ideologies of patriotism, especially as symbolized by the American flag. In a trenchant epilogue, Kuhn connects dots from the events of that summer to the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump.

A welcome resurrection of a forgotten riot with relevance for our current fragmented political landscape. (b/w photos)

Pub Date: July 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-19-006471-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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