The Public Interest

Neocon agonistes

James Nuechterlein

Winter 1996

THE middle section of Glenn C. Lourys collection of essays on race in America, One by One from the Inside Out,† bears the title, “Can We Talk?” The question is central to his topic, and it is his personal frustration and our collective tragedy that the answer is “No.” On the dominant issue of American domestic politics, we have arrived at a point where, for reasons sometimes good but mostly bad, evasion rules, and the simplest truth-telling takes on the character of heroic virtue or reckless disregard for personal reputation. Loury wishes things were otherwise, and the great bulk of what he has to say on America’s racial problems strikes the reader as truth to which only emperors without clothes could possibly object.  But he has his own waverings, not of honesty but of focus, and those waverings reflect the terrible mess in today’s racial discussion and policy making. One comes away from this admirable book more depressed than the author intends.

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