The Farrakhan Phenomenon: Race, Reaction, and the Paranoid Style in American Politics

The Farrakhan Phenomenon: Race, Reaction, and the Paranoid Style in American Politics

The Farrakhan Phenomenon: Race, Reaction, and the Paranoid Style in American Politics

The Farrakhan Phenomenon: Race, Reaction, and the Paranoid Style in American Politics

Synopsis

"Adds a fresh perspective...[Singh's] strong analysis of the political paranoia surrounding Farrakhan points out the causes & the consequences not only for African American leaders but also the nation at large."-Library Journal.

Excerpt

In March 1990, upon being asked by the late Professor Aaron Wildavsky for my dominant impressions of America—on only my second visit to the country and my first to Washington, D.C.—I'd tentatively commented upon the feature that had struck me most forcefully: the overarching importance of race to the nation's political and social affairs. Fortunately, for a young British graduate student, the reply elicited the eminent professor's typically gruff approval: "That's right. When people ask me what they should understand about American politics, I tell them race, the first five times." Although I had no way of knowing, then or subsequently, whether Wildavsky actually did offer such repetitive advice to aspiring Americanists, neither academic study nor personal experience since that enjoyable encounter have altered my original view.

The decision to write this book about Louis Farrakhan in part reflected the strongly held conviction that examining the politics of race in America remains a necessary and central—though by no means sufficient—condition of a comprehensive and accurate understanding of politics in the United States today as much as, and probably more than, ever. For as the twentieth century draws to its close, it requires no special critical faculty nor an exceptional gift of intellect to see that the American dilemma of race is little closer to resolution now than at its outset. In over one hundred years, the great progress achieved by black Americans—though remarkable in many respects— has remained manifestly insufficient to bring them fully into the republic's economic and social mainstream. In consequence, of the many emotions invariably occasioned by both public and private discussions of race among American citizens today, that of pessimism is unmistakably widespread. That sentiment, moreover, constitutes an especially conspicuous and resilient exception to the generally optimistic cast of most Americans' speculations upon the future development of their nation.

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