Not a defense of Trumpian politics but a measured explanation of why the American populace was so receptive to both Donald...


A scholar pits nationalism against globalism and finds the former preferable.

Where so many political analysts have seen the rise of Donald Trump and the Brexit decision as irrational offenses against the democratic process, former Knesset member Tamir (President/Shenkar Coll. of Engineering and Design; Liberal Nationalism, 1995, etc.) maintains otherwise. “The crystallization of the vulnerable into an identity group went unnoticed until the liberal progressive camp started losing one election after another,” she writes. “This wasn’t, as many assumed, a moment of democratic crisis but of democratic victory…because certain social trends that had previously been silenced suddenly got a voice.” The author laments the impression that too often that voice has been extremist and xenophobic, but she believes that those ill-served by liberal multiculturalism and the factionalism of identity politics have made a rational choice in their own best interests rather than been swayed by demagoguery. She convincingly argues that globalism benefits the rich, who already have wealth and power and resources, while undermining the many. So, why nationalism? Because it provides a cultural identity, makes one a part of something bigger than oneself, and confers a kind of immortality in the form of continuity. Because it provides a unifying narrative as well as a system of public education that reinforces the shared values of the unifying narrative. Addressing the times when academic institutions sought to “remake the national narrative,” the author writes, “national unity was eroded and pluralism replaced the ‘melting pot’ policy.” She continues, “the newly established harmony turned into cacophony.” Tamir castigates extremists on both the left and right, arguing that compromises reflecting the majority voice, without demonizing minorities, is the only path forward. She believes that political discourse must “move beyond the patronizing ways in which the masses are perceived.” Yet she makes it possible to appreciate her comparatively calm call to reason without becoming persuaded that the resurgence of nationalism is where reason lies.

Not a defense of Trumpian politics but a measured explanation of why the American populace was so receptive to both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-691-19010-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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