September 13, 1999
Consider the following case study in the complex interaction of race and law enforcement. An officer from the Drug Enforcement Administration stops and questions a young man who has just stepped off a flight to Kansas City from Los Angeles. The officer has focused on this man for several reasons. Intelligence reports indicate that black gangs in Los Angeles are flooding the Kansas City area with illegal drugs, and the man in question was on a flight originating in Los Angeles.
The Closing of the American City
May 11, 1998
From 1998, Wilson reviews books on integration and the impact of the Rodney King incident.
December 01, 1997
Senate Republicans have blocked Bill Lann Lee's nomination to be assistant attorney general for Civil Rights on the grounds that his views are "out of the mainstream." Lee's editorial supporters, including The New York Times, denounce this as a "gross misrepresentation," and before examining his writings, I was prepared to believe them. But based on Lee's testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee and on his record as counsel to the naacp Legal Defense Fund, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that Lee represents the least nuanced tendencies of liberal racialism.
Hostility in America
August 25, 1997
Wilson reviews Crime is Not the Problem: Lethal Violence in America in 1997.
The Bloods and the Crits
December 09, 1996
During the past decade, an academic movement called critical race theory has gained increasing currency in the legal academy. Rejecting the achievements of the civil rights movement of the 1960s as epiphenomenal, critical race scholars argue that the dismantling of the apparatus of formal segregation failed to purge American society of its endemic racism, or to improve the social status of African Americans in discernible or lasting ways. The claim that these scholars make is not only political; it is also epistemological.
A Man of Good Intentions
July 29, 1996
Profound disappointment creased the usually impassive face of Warren Christopher the night of May 29. The secretary of state and his staff on the seventh floor of the State Department were hearing about the election returns from Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu, a committed foe of trading the Golan Heights for peace with Hafez al-Assad's Syria, had defeated Shimon Peres, Israeli architect of the land-for-peace enterprise. Christopher had invested more than three years of effort, as well as presidential, national and personal prestige in trying to broker such a deal.
Race, O.J. and my Kids
April 25, 1995
Among the legions of devotees of the O.J. Simpson trial in the United States, some of the most devoted are the five classes of sophomores I teach at an inner-city high school in Jersey City. For my students, the Simpson trial is something of an obsession, a sentiment that is, I concede, encouraged by this self-confessed O.J. junkie. This fascination is not simply prurient or voyeuristic (though there is no doubt some of that); the trial has been a terrific teaching tool that has helped to illuminate aspects of the American history curriculum I teach.
March 13, 1995
Your legal correspondent has been doing his part to keep this magazine 100 percent O.J.-free. My resolution to miss each moment of the trial of the century began out of indolence and has now blossomed into a ripe affectation. The truth is that I've always had an aversion to celebrity trials: the soap operatic narratives spun out to arouse the passions of jurors leave me alternately indifferent and uncomfortable; and the messy particularity of actual human experience tends to obscure the abstract legal principles that make my heart race.
The War on Immigrants
January 30, 1995
On December 14, 1994, a federal judge in Los Angeles enjoined the state of California from enforcing Proposition 187, which would deny health, education and welfare benefits to illegal aliens and their children. The case eventually may reach the Supreme Court; and Governor Pete Wilson has called on the justices to overturn a 1982 decision, Plyler v.
Can Labor Come Back?
May 23, 1994
The recent Teamsters strike, The Los Angeles Times declared, "has served as a reminder of how much the union's influence has waned." The outcome, The New York Times wrote, showed how the union's "power has shrunk." There is some truth in these statements, but they reveal more about the national press's attitude toward labor than about the Teamsters union. During the twenty-four-day strike, the longest in Teamster history and the first since 1979, the union achieved almost 100 percent support from its rank and file, in spite of violent dissension in its upper ranks. In the provisional settlemen