Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Challenging Work Raises Tough Questions on Race

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Challenging Work Raises Tough Questions on Race

Article excerpt


By Dinesh D'Souza

The Free Press

(Simon & Schuster)

724 pp., $30

THE contention of African-American scholar Cornel West that "race matters" seems never more true than today. In recent weeks, Americans have seen:

*The verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial, which has exposed a deep divide between whites and blacks.

*Hundreds of thousands of black men marching on Washington Oct. 16, a Million Man March aimed at "atonement" and taking responsibility for their actions.

*A report from The Sentencing Project showing that 1 out of 3 black men in their 20s is in jail or elsewhere in the judicial system, a 25 percent increase since 1990.

A controversial new book is sending another lightning bolt into this highly charged atmosphere. The author, Dinesh D'Souza, is a young political conservative, a native of India who became a US citizen in 1991. His previous book, "Illiberal Education," skewered political correctness on college campuses.

Now he turns his skills as a polemicist on society in general and its struggle with racism. A pessimist might worry that D'Souza's book, full of observations that could hardly be called politically correct, will only aggravate racial tensions. It is troubling to think how it may only reinforce the prejudices of some.

The book, "The End of Racism: Principles for a Multiracial Society," hardly could stand alone as a balanced assessment of racism in America today. But now that it is in the public arena, one can only hope it will serve a useful purpose by provoking thought and stimulate those who disagree with its premises and conclusions to clarify their thinking and search more deeply and urgently for answers.

Just what are D'Souza's shocking ideas? Though he doesn't completely deny the existence of racism in 1995, he downplays its importance. …

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