Friday, May 1, 2009

Dred Scott's Revenge by Andrew Napolitano

For many in my generation (early Baby Boomers), Judge Napolitano’s book will slaughter a sacred cow or two. Dred Scott’s Revenge provides a history of racism in the United States. Had anyone else written this book, they would be accused of being a revisionist. However, coming from one such as the Judge makes this accusation difficult to maintain.

From our founding as a nation to recent days, racism has marked American culture. This comes as old news to black Americans, but to others, the roots of racism have long been hidden. Andrew Napolitano charts the course of this blight from our founding documents to civil rights legislation. On page 220, he summarizes the theme of his book; “Ever since July 4, 1776, the federal and local governments in the independent United States have aided in the treatment of black Americans as chattel property or as second class citizens.”

No political persuasion escapes responsibility for this. Our first Presidents were slave owners, Abraham Lincoln, author of the Emancipation Proclamation, favored emancipation as a means of preserving the Union, not because he believed in the inherent equality of all people. Both the right and the left are complicit in promoting racist policies. Concerning the criminal justice system, Napolitano says, “The right disbelieved in big government, yet helped create a prison system of unprecedented scope and size. The left opposed racially discriminatory punishment, yet reinforced and expanded the most racially skewed prison population in American history” (pages 222-223).

This books needs to be read by every American, regardless of political party. As has been commonly remarked, the only way to avoid making mistakes in the future is to learn from the mistakes of the past.

Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger Program

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