The little red book

Whether it’s Hitler’s Mein Kampf, The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx, or The Little Red Book, the name commonly known in the West for the pocket-size edition of Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung, there is a guide for the social movements and it purpose is often other than elucidation. Scott Johnson takes on an example in a look at The deep secrets of racial profiling about Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

Alexander’s book represents the state of the art in the assault on law enforcement in the name of racial disparities.

the book comes in a scholarly wrapping. It footnotes assertions of facts and data with citations to sources in the traditional style of legal scholarship, but the footnotes frequently fail to support the text. Moreover, and more to the point, basic scholarship that contradicts her theses goes missing. Following David Harris’s tack in Profiles In Injustice, Alexander’s scholarship is a pretense.

Alexander’s book is not itself a work of scholarship. it is a polemic. It is, more accurately, a work of obfuscation in the service of political propaganda. As propaganda, it is an unsavory piece of work at that.

Ideology blinds and that wants social acceptance. Little red books are after that ‘pat on the back’ and, all too often, seem to get it. The expense in civility is often huge.

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