Though repetitive and a touch too sweeping at times, this is a worthy addition to the literature of critical legal...

THE CULT OF THE CONSTITUTION

A law professor and cyberactivist examines America’s “constitutional fundamentalists.”

It’s an article of faith, writes Franks (Univ. of Miami School of Law), president of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, that the Constitution is the embodiment of a foundational wisdom that has not come along since. Yet, she argues, it also embodies a “founding fraud”—i.e., that the authors of that document really believed that “we the people” included everyone and not just adult white male property holders. “Constitutional fundamentalism,” writes Franks, “whether of the right or left, sanctifies the men and the moment of the founding era: that is, an era in which the interests of women and racial minorities were subordinated to those of white, economically powerful men.” The First Amendment is a particularly active battleground in that clash of interests, with adherents to the cult of the Constitution insistent that freedom of speech is absolute even as the author and like-minded critics seek legislation to protect Americans from such things as cyberstalking. In that amendment, she writes, civil liberties organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Freedom Foundation were as implacably opposed as any conservative think tank. As for the Second Amendment, Franks argues that the idea that self-defense requires access to firearms is “reductive and dangerous to the general welfare.” Moreover, its protections are unevenly distributed: “Who gets to stand their ground?" she asks, provocatively, observing that the National Rifle Association and other gun-freedom groups have never been quick to encourage armed self-defense on the part of black Americans. Such double standards are abetted by strict interpretations of a document that, Franks allows, has become more sympathetic to the interests of minorities, as with the 14th Amendment—but even so, such changes “have at most modified white male supremacy, not dislodged it.”

Though repetitive and a touch too sweeping at times, this is a worthy addition to the literature of critical legal studies—and a timely text as battles over the Constitution and its interpretation continue to rage.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5036-0322-6

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Stanford Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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