Editor’s note

Editor’s note

The protection of civil liberties is a necessary prerequisite to the protection of civil rights: without the freedom to dissent, the possibility of redress rests on the magnanimity of the government rather than on the authority of the governed. Civil liberties provide the space in which and through which civil rights can be defended, the most important of which is the freedom to discuss and to dissent.

The articles and reviews in this issue of the Civil Rights Journal attempt to further the discussion on a number of topics central to today’s policy debates. Chief among them is the question of civil liberty in a time of war, particularly when one ethnic group is the primary focus of public concern. In his article “Flying While Arab,” David Harris, a professor of law at Toledo University, examines the evidence regarding the legal and practical case for racial profiling. He finds the practice not only morally objectionable but likely to backfire, as the targeted group tacitly withdraws its full support for the system that renders it vulnerable.

Few people better represent the possibility of humane discussion than Bob Moses, the civil rights activist who first gained renown in the 1960s as leader of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. His characteristically modest and wise vision is exhibited in an interview in this issue.

Though overshadowed by the terrorist attack on the U.S. in September 2001, voting issues remain a paramount concern for many. Two articles in this issue focus on that topic. Mark Mauer, the assistant director of the Sentencing Project, argues that felons who have served their time deserve to have their right to vote restored. He surveys the landscape, finding a patchwork of uneven and contradictory state laws, and focuses on the uncomfortable reality that incarceration rates differ by race, making those who have been historically disenfranchised more likely to suffer the same fate today. Jim Dickson, by contrast, focuses on the practical difficulties facing people with disabilities, and calls for laws that provide better access to polling places.

In other articles, Frank Wu examines the continuing prejudice faced by Asian Americans, David Lopes reflects on the history of the Kingdom of Kongo, and Gloria Jahoda recounts the events that led to the dispossession of Native Americans in the “Trail of Tears.” The book review section is rich, containing full-length reviews of several of the most important works to be published over the last year or two in sociology, psychology, and political science. All of these articles have in common a serious engagement with the issues, a respect for the facts, and a readiness to confront, honestly and fairly, the arguments of opposing points of view. In that sense, they present a model of how to conduct a debate in a democratic polity.

If the business of America is business, as Herbert Hoover first said, then one of the best ways to ensure that all of its people have a chance to participate in the American dream is by making sure that all of its people have the chance to participate fully in the nation’s economic life. The article, “Managing the Revolution: Best Practices for 21st Century Business,” surveys the field and attempts to bring some of the current academic discussion about prejudice and discrimination to bear on life in corporate America. It also attempts to provide clear and specific ideas about how to best manage an increasingly diverse population.

COPYRIGHT 2002 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

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