Tags: Naomi Murakawa | police | state | liberalism | targets | blacks

Author Murakawa: Liberals Built US Police State That Targets Blacks

By    |   Tuesday, 06 Jan 2015 07:35 PM

A new book by a Princeton professor of African American studies argues that the modern-day police-and-prison industrial complex — criticized by liberals for its racial bias — is, in fact, a creation of liberal academics and politicians who colluded in race-conscious social engineering, Newsweek reports.

"The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America," by Naomi Murakawa, contradicts the conventional wisdom about the social and political origins of tough-on-crime policies that fall hardest on African Americans and, in 2014, sparked sometimes violent protests.

Murakawa instead traces the roots of America's prison state to a reform movement in public safety that caught on around World War II, thanks to the influential writings of liberal social scientists. Their ideas, in turn, became the statutes and principles behind a militarized war on crime and jam-packed U.S. prisons.

The irony, according to Murakawa and reviewers of her book, is that these new ideas and programs rejected the pseudo-scientific, eugenicist view of racial inferiority that had held sway until that time.

Slavery and bigotry, not biology, were to blame for black America's difficulties, was the new argument.

"Progressive thinkers overthrew scientific racism as a respectable belief system," Thaddeus Russell of Newsweek writes in a summary of Murakawa's book, "and replaced it with a set of ideas that were modern and sophisticated but also a more effective rationale for locking up large portions of the population."

And leading Democratic politicians — from Harry Truman to Lyndon Johnson to Bill Clinton to Joe Biden — either championed or endorsed the resulting law enforcement strategies, which are under fire today for inflicting inordinate misery on African Americans, according to the book.

Murakawa writes that this new theory of public safety sprang from the idea that African Americans would feel less abused by the system, and more respectful of it, if they had confidence that its punishments were fairly and evenly applied without regard to ethnicity.

That insight led to a national push in the 1950s to further professionalize policing, institute mandatory minimum sentences, and expand the prison system — on the theory that the reformed system would be racially evenhanded.

But the new "racial liberalism" contained plenty of cringe-inducing and racist assumptions of its own about African American behavior and attitudes toward authority, according to Murakawa.

"As we know from the record of black distrust and antagonism toward police that followed the 1960s, these dreams of socially engineered assimilation did not come true," Russell writes in Newsweek.

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A new book by a Princeton professor of African American studies argues that the modern-day police-and-prison industrial complex - criticized by liberals for its racial bias - is, in fact, a creation of liberal academics and politicians who colluded in race-conscious social...
Naomi Murakawa, police, state, liberalism, targets, blacks
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2015-35-06
Tuesday, 06 Jan 2015 07:35 PM
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