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A New York Times Notable Book of the YearWhat do hurricane Katrina victims, millionaire rappers buying vintage champagne, and Ivy League professors waiting for taxis have in common? All have claimed to be victims of racism. But these days almost no one openly defends bigoted motives, so either a lot of people are lying about their true beliefs, or a lot of people are jumping to unwarranted conclusions--or just playing the race card. Daring, entertaining, and incisive, The Race Card brings sophisticated legal analysis, eye-popping anecdotes, and plain old common sense to this heated topic. Richard Thompson Ford is the George E. Osborne Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. He has published regularly on the topics of civil rights, constitutional law, race relations, and antidiscrimination law. He is the author of Racial Culture: A Critique. A New York Times Book Review Notable Book What do Hurricane Katrina victims waiting for federal disaster relief, millionaire rappers buying vintage champagne, Ivy League professors waiting for taxis, and ghetto hustlers trying to find steady work have in common? All have claimed to be victims of racism. These days almost no one openly expresses racist beliefs or defends bigoted motives. So, many are victims of bigotry, but no one's a bigot? What gives? Either a lot of people are lying about their true beliefs and motivations, or a lot of people are jumping to unwarranted conclusionsor just playing the race card. As the label of 'prejudice' is applied in more and more situations, the word loses a clear and universal meaning. This makes it easy for self-serving individuals and political hacks to use accusations of racism, sexism, homophobia, and other types of bias to advance their own ends. Richard Thompson Ford, a Stanford Law School professor, brings sophisticated legal analysis, lively and eye-popping anecdotes, and plain old common sense to this heated topic. He offers ways to separate valid claims from bellyaching. Daring, entertaining, and incisive, The Race Card is a call for us to treat racism as a social problem that must be objectively understood and honestly evaluated. 'Mr. Ford, a clear and lively writer, probes and prods and provokes as he steers his way through this contested terrain. He takes dead aim at racial opportunists, opponents of affirmative action, multiculturalists and the myriad rights organizations trying to hitch a ride on the successes of the black civil rights movement. All, in different ways, he argues, are playing the race card. All are harming the cause of civil rights.'William Grimes, The New York Times 'Mr. Ford, a clear and lively writer, probes and prods and provokes as he steers his way through this contested terrain. He takes dead aim at racial opportunists, opponents of affirmative action, multiculturalists and the myriad rights organizations trying to hitch a ride on the successes of the black civil rights movement. All, in different ways, he argues, are playing the race card. All are harming the cause of civil rights . . . Mr. Ford is bracing. He clears away a lot of clutter, nonsense and bad faith. Best of all, he argues his humane, centrist position without apology or hesitation. Sticking to the middle of the road, after all, can be the fastest way to get where you're going. Mr. Ford wants to move beyond name calling and emotional point scoring. Let's reserve the word racist, he suggests, for clear-cut instances of bigotry, and address more subtle problems of racial prejudice as we do air pollution, instead of rape or murder.'William Grimes, The New York Times[A] sharp, tightly argued and delightfully contentious work . . . To left-leaning readers and victims of genuine racism, Ford's relentless evenhandedness and cost-benefit balancing act may seem at times to skirt the edges of conservative reaction. But a patient reading of this astute and closely reasoned work reveals an exquisitely subversive mind. Ford is adept at stealing the best-defended intellectual bases of the right on behalf of a pragmatic, antiracist liberalism unflaggingly committed to the increasingly scorned goal of integrationand to relief for the truly disadvantaged, who suffer the persisting injuries of past racism in the absence of those who engendered their plight and, perplexingly, in the presence of growing racial tolerance.Orlando Patterson, The New York Times Book ReviewThe fear that opportunistic claims of racism will make reasonable ones suspect has long since been confirmed. As a result, there is a well-primed audience for Ford's funny, if familiar, tales of how the race card gets played, but once readers move beyond the passages on Thomas and Simpson, they will find themselves on much more challenging terrain. When Ford delves into the intricacies of post-racist America, the book crackles with insight and pierces the pieties of left and right.Daniel J. Sharfstein, The Washington Post'In this provocative and thoughtful book The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse, Stanford Law Professor Richard Thompson Ford presents a well-timed argument for a 'post-racist' understanding of the national landscape . . . Ford's book is particularly timely in the wake of the discussion surrounding Barack Obama's rabble-rousing minister, Reverend Jeremiah Wright . . . Readers interested in civil rights, and employment law in particular, will find this book illuminating and thought-provoking. But The Race Card should not be read only by readers with those interests. It deserves a much broader readership of 'liberals' and 'conservatives' of all races, since the issues and concepts discussed are so fundamental to an understanding of current society. Fortunately, Ford writes in a lively, entertaining style, belying the seriousness of his topic.'Fabio Bertoni, New York Law Journal Magazine'Ford's The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse brings the sharp, nuanced yet stylish analysis of a 42-year-old black Harvard Law School graduate (same class as Barack Obama) and Stanford law professor to a pattern of behavior and media events that can elude you until you recall the examples: Ford cites the Tawana Brawlet case. The 'Clarence Thomas vs. Anita Hill' hearingdescribed by Thomas as a 'high-tech lynching.' O.J.'s murder trial. Rapper Kanye West's declaration that President Bush 'hates black people,' making his handling of Katrina's victims racist. Philosopher Cornel West's reminiscence of how his 'blood began to boil' when nine cabs passed him by at Park Avenue and 60th. Michael Jackson's contention that his record company's 'racist conspiracy' drove down his sales . . . Ford astutely sees these events as linked by family resemblance, but still in need of individual analysis. And so he offers much, mixing the sarcasm of a journalist with the exacting logic of a law professor. Ford understands term-of-art legal doctrines such as 'disparate impact' in evaluating racism in discrimination law, but he never loses his pragmatic, common-sense grasp of how social problems arise, and how to solve them. The result? A superbly enlightening reflection on how America should confront its authentic legacy of racism . . . No one, however, has combined Ford's sophisticated use of political theory and law with such punchy prose. One may disagree with Ford on whether we now live in a 'post-racism' society, but The Race Card brilliantly forces thinking on practices such as profiling to new levels of candor and complexity. Were the author and Obama pals at Harvard? Who knows? But on evidence of this book, Ford would make an incisive attorney general.'Carlin Romano, The Philadelphia Inquirer'The Race Card aims to recast how Americans talk about race and racism and to make racial discourse less scandal-centered and less accusatory . . . Th
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