Fighting Words: The Politics of Hateful Speech

Synopsis

This intriguing book reflects on the conditions on college campuses that give rise to words and acts of hate, on the consequences of these episodes, and on strategies intended to improve intergroup harmony. Using the speech given by Nation of Islam spokesperson Khalid Abdul Muhammad at Kean College in 1993, the book begins with a consideration of the societal trends affecting today's college student, including the increasing economic uncertainty that characterizes their future and the hostility and fragmentation that characterizes their present. Attitudinal changes have proven to be widespread, as more Americans have begun to view the world through the lenses of political, social, and economic self-interest, calling prevailing equity policy into question and giving new life to identity politics. Since issues of affirmative action, multiculturalism, and political correctness are at the core of the national debate and command the attention of college students, each is addressed in detail. A discussion of what prompted Kean students to invite Muhammad follows a consideration of the current status of intergroup relations on campuses across the nation. This examination covers the inescapable conclusion that, despite the desires of most students for positive relations with people of other groups, there are serious gaps to be bridged.