University of California

End State
October 26, 2009

California is a mess, but I love it all the same--especially the Bay Area, where I lived for 15 years. I went to Berkeley in 1962--a refugee from Amherst College, which at that time was dominated by frat boys with high SAT scores. I didn't go to Berkeley to go to school, but to be a bus ride away from North Beach and the Jazz Workshop. In a broader sense, I went to California for the same reason that other émigrés had been going since the 1840s. I was knocking on the Golden Door. Immigrants from Europe had come to America seeking happiness and a break with their unhappy pasts.

The 9/11 Constitution
January 16, 2006

The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs After 9/11 By John Yoo(University of Chicago Press, 366 pp., $29) In 2002, the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel indicated that as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, the president has the power to engage in coercive interrogation, even torture—and that Congress lacks the power to limit that authority.

The Struggle Continues
August 05, 2002

Beyond the Conceivable: Studies on Germany, Nazism, and the Holocaust by Dan Diner (University of California, 286 pp., $45) Click here to purchase the book.What is the connection between the collective memory of Germans and Jews and the epistemology of historical scholarship about the Holocaust? What roles do political history and social history play in this enterprise? Why has there been a trend toward universalizing the causes of the Holocaust in both collective memory and historical method, and what are the arguments for a reassertion of historical specificity?

A Paler Shade of White
June 24, 2002

Colored White: Transcending the Racial Past by David R. Roediger (University of California Press, 323 pp., $29.95) "What is a White Man?" asked Charles Chesnutt in the pages of the Independent, a mass-circulation weekly, in 1889. This was no mere academic question.

Against Reparations
July 23, 2001

The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks by Randall Robinson (Plume, 262 pp., $13) I can buy a big house in an exclusive neighborhood. I can buy a fancy car or two. I can send my kids to private school. I can work hard and empower myself. Oprah Winfrey pulled herself up by the bootstraps.

Reorientation
July 02, 2001

"You want to know about the awakening? This is the awakening." Ginny Gong, a manager in the Montgomery County culture and recreation department, is crowded into the wood-paneled school board chamber in Rockville, Maryland. Squeezed into the aisles around her are a Vietnamese financial analyst from Lockheed Martin, a Chinese administrator from the National Institutes of Health, and about a dozen other activists.

Without Merit
May 14, 2001

In my criminal procedure class this year, we tried to decide whether a driver who has been pulled over by the police because of his race has suffered a constitutional injury. "The problem isn't being pulled over," said one African American student. "It's what happens after. You have to do this step-'n'-fetch-it routine, showing that you're subordinate to the officer, to make sure he won't arrest you. Even if the officer is black, it's incredibly degrading." The comment changed the way the class and I thought about the constitutionality of racial profiling.

The Sea and the Text
July 12, 1999

The Returns of Odysseus: Colonization and Ethnicity by Irad Malkin (University of California Press, 331 pp., $45)  Celebrating Homer's Landscapes: Troy and Ithaca Revisited by J.V. Luce (Yale University Press, 260 pp., $35) For the modern traveler, Greece and its environs seem surprisingly small, a sea-girt checkerboard most often first glimpsed from the air. Most of the Aegean islands are on nodding terms with each other.

Shameless
November 30, 1998

"It is either impeachment or nothing," Gary McDowell, the conservative legal scholar, told the House Judiciary Committee on November 9. "Thus, the current suggestion that Congress might censure the president is to assume a power not given by our Constitution." Many of the scholars who testified during the opening hearing of the House impeachment inquiry agreed with McDowell, but they were overstating the case against censure.

Lee's way
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.

Pages