Politics & Passion: Theoretically a Dangerous Liaison

Posted: 27 Aug 2008  

Date Written: August 24, 2008


Scholars characterize the books by Carter and Williams as a fundamental juxtaposition of legal perspectives on race in the United States, with one author coming from the right and the other from the left; or one informed by a predominantly male point of view and the other female. Even as I acknowledge the force of their respective stylistic, political, and gendered existences, I believe that readers of the books will ultimately conclude that Carter comes from a space of passion and Williams from a space of reason.

Williams criticizes rhetorical event as a core of social and legal theory that lacks a starting point of objective truth. Instead, it simply universalizes legal taxonomies, which affect all people -- leaving the human condition up for grabs in the marketplace of categorization. She critiques legal discourse and the rhetoric employed to mask multiple oppressions and racially determined aspects of social engineering. Carter, on the other hand, speaks of rhetoric as a political tool, void of substantive value, widely abused by those cultivating partisan soil.

This Review explores two broad areas of inquiry relating to Black American politics and scholarly discourse. It evolves in large measure as a thematic response to important questions about Black consciousness, whose answers ostensibly elude many proponents of its value. The difficulty arises from a lack of meaningful dialogue and abundance of grandiose posturing. Current battles stems from disagreement over the wisdom of affirmative action. It is on this topic, then, that I join the dialogue.

The Review provides a cost-benefit analysis of affirmative action and suggests one avenue for moving beyond the name calling that has been less than helpful in resolving racial dilemmas. Carter espouses what Williams demonstrates by example and precept: that the time has come for all writers to move beyond the virulent criticism and to create an above-ground passage for those who possess a nonracist sensibility.

Keywords: affirmative action

Suggested Citation

Barnes, Robin, Politics & Passion: Theoretically a Dangerous Liaison (August 24, 2008). Yale Law Journal, Vol. 101, No. 1631, 1992. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1252682
No contact information is available for Robin Barnes

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