Tuesday, April 13, 2010

People who should know better

Angela Y. Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete?:
One of the grave consequences of the powerful reach of the prison was the 2000 (s)election of George W. Bush as president. If only the black men and women denied the right to vote because of an actual or presumed felony record had been allowed to cast their ballots, Bush would not be in the White House today. And perhaps we would not be dealing with the awful costs of the War on Terrorism declared during the first year of his administration. If not for his election, the people of Iraq might not have suffered death, destruction, and environmental poisoning by U.S. military forces.
I hate to be critical of this book, because though I'm not very far into it and she's still making her background arguments, it's already extremely useful and clearly very important. But this is an unambiguous example of a problem I've noticed throughout the text thus far: passive democratic partisanship. While detailing the prison building boom that we've been going through since the 1980s, she mentions Reagan and both Bushes by name several times, with no mention of Clinton, under whose presidency the trend towards mass imprisonment only accelerated. Surely of all people Angela Davis shouldn't fall for this nonsense.
I know from seeing her speak a few years back that she had no illusions about Obama well before he was elected. And it's entirely possible that this is a rhetorical gambit, one intended to draw in liberals who might be at least somewhat sympathetic to her arguments but would be alienated by criticisms of democrats early on. If this is the case, I hope she addresses it at some point in the remainder of the book.

No comments: