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Justice at War

Justice at War: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights During Times of Crisis

Foreword by Jennifer L. Hochschild
Copyright Date: 2003
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 219
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  • Book Info
    Justice at War
    Book Description:

    The status of civil rights in the United States today is as volatile an issue as ever, with many Americans wondering if new laws, implemented after the events of September 11, restrict more people than they protect. How will efforts to eradicate racism, sexism, and xenophobia be affected by the measures our government takes in the name of protecting its citizens? Richard Delgado, one of the founding figures in the Critical Race Theory movement, addresses these problems with his latest book in the award-winning Rodrigo Chronicles. Employing the narrative device he and other Critical Race theorists made famous, Delgado assembles a cast of characters to discuss such urgent and timely topics as race, terrorism, hate speech, interracial relationships, freedom of speech, and new theories on civil rights stemming from the most recent war.In the course of this new narrative, Delgado provides analytical breakthroughs, offering new civil rights theories, new approaches to interracial romance and solidarity, and a fresh analysis of how whiteness and white privilege figure into the debate on affirmative action. The characters also discuss the black/white binary paradigm of race and show why it persists even at a time when the country's population is rapidly diversifying.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-2117-9
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-i)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    Jennifer L. Hochschild

    FEW SCHOLARS write with not only incisive analysis but also grace and wit, and even fewer can thread a tender love story through that analysis. But Richard Delgado has done all of those things in Justice at War, producing a book that is simultaneously charming, thought-provoking, maddening, and deeply important. I disagree with some of what he says but find his basic argument compelling and powerful. That is in keeping, in my view, with the very great virtues and occasional problems of the whole movement of critical race studies, of which Delgado is a leading light.

    As Delgado points out,...

  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    WHO IS RODRIGO? What about his mentor and straight man, “the Professor”? And, what are law professors doing writing stories, anyway?

    The reader curious about these matters will find answers to most of them in the dialogs themselves. Written simply and with as little jargon as possible, they are intended to be accessible and engaging to the general reader interested in critical race theory, politics, and American public life. But for the reader who wishes a little reassurance in this respect, or just a bit of background before diving into this book, here is a brief overview of where we...

  6. I Ten Months

    • 1 Introducing Rodrigo
      (pp. 7-38)

      “Professor, is that you?”

      The familiar voice from behind gave me quite a start. Wheeling around so suddenly that my cart almost collided with that of an oncoming shopper, a young woman who smiled at me indulgently, I sputtered, “Rodrigo! What are you doing here?”

      The tall, smiling youth strode out from behind his own cart, shook my hand warmly, and said, “Giannina and I are in town for a few days, staying with her mother, who has a time-share condo here. She uses it every summer to get away from the Florida heat. The two of them are making...

    • 2 A Terrible Tale
      (pp. 39-49)

      AFTER THAT HAPPY AFTERNOON at Teresa’s apartment, Rodrigo and I saw each other only once over the next three months, an unusually long interval for us. Our next meeting took place in his city, where I had gone for the funeral of a onetime colleague of mine. I had dropped in on Rodrigo’s law school unannounced, having a little time on my hands, and found him pinned down in his office by counseling duties. In between students dropping off course registration forms or asking Rodrigo his advice on what classes to take, we talked about the career of my friend,...

    • 3 Rodrigo Returns
      (pp. 50-55)

      I STARTED, as the telephone on my desk rang with unexpected loudness. Then I remembered why. I had gone next door to check a detail with a faculty colleague about our last faculty meeting a few days ago. For years, our dean had been in the habit of assigning the most junior member of the law faculty the onerous duty of recording and distributing the minutes of faculty meetings. This fall, in an excess of democratic spirit, she had decided to assign the task to the most senior faculty member: me. After our first faculty meeting in early October, I...

    • 4 Justice at War
      (pp. 56-76)

      I ARRIVED AT Teresa’s townhouse on the other side of town a few minutes early. With a little repressed pleasure, I recalled her slightly breathless voice when she had called, just two days earlier, to invite me over. Rodrigo, her daughter, and the new baby had been staying in her extra bedroom, getting caught up with each other. But they were going to go for a stroll that afternoon to pick out some wine for our dinner. If I dropped by around four, we would have a little time for ourselves and I could help her set the table.


    • 5 Taming Terrorism
      (pp. 77-91)

      WHEN WE RECONVENED next afternoon, I had to force myself to concentrate and seem normal. Rodrigo’s voice welcoming me and asking how my seminar had gone seemed to be coming out of a pink-tinged fog. Teresa had met me on the steps of the townhouse and, glancing around to see if anyone was looking, given me a quick hug and kiss on the cheek. Except that the kiss had ended, somehow, with a quick brush of her lips on mine. So soft!

      Taking my hand in hers, she led me up the steps, warning me in a low voice that...

    • 6 Interracial Love, Sex, and Marriage
      (pp. 92-104)

      THE TIME WAS several months later. The term had ended, and much had happened. Rodrigo and Giannina had returned home. I had finished my semester, discharged that onerous obligation the dean had imposed on me, and passed the responsibility for note-taking onto an unsuspecting senior professor, even older than I, who had come out of retirement to teach a tax course we were having trouble covering. Hee-hee, I thought—pretty clever of me to keep quiet about it until just before the faculty meeting, when I presented her with my stenographer’s pad and a copy of the faculty handbook setting...

  7. II Remembering and Forgetting

    • [II Introduction]
      (pp. 105-106)

      IT TURNED OUT, indeed, to be the baby-sitter, announcing that little Gus was getting fussy. After paying our bill and leaving a tip, we stood on the sidewalk outside, blinking in the bright sunshine. As we started toward Teresa’s apartment, I said:

      “Speaking of solidarity, I wonder if, when we get back, the three of you could indulge me something, assuming little Gustavo is not too clamorous, that is.”

      “Certainly,” Giannina said. “What is it?”

      “I’ve been thinking about remembering and forgetting lately. When you’re my age you’ll understand why. I’m still sharp enough. But every now and then I...

    • 7 Hate Speech, Free Speech: Speech as Struggle
      (pp. 107-129)

      MINUTES LATER, we were back in Teresa’s apartment. The baby- sitter was just picking up her equipment, and little Gustavo was in the kitchen with Giannina, having a snack of baby food and something that looked like polenta. “He’ll be ready for a nap soon,” said Giannina as we stood and watched. “Why don’t you all go into the living room and start? I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

      She was true to her word. On her return, Giannina explained that the baby had been tired from all the active play with Rosa.

      “She’s great. Has more energy...

    • 8 The Trouble with Principle
      (pp. 130-142)

      ALTHOUGH WE CONTINUED to exchange letters and cards, I did not see Rodrigo nor his family for several weeks. They returned home shortly after our conversation in Teresa’s apartment, and Rodrigo’s letters spoke about the myriad details of resuming his teaching career, Giannina’s summer plans—it turns out that she was, indeed, selected for that coveted supreme court internship—and the precocious baby’s accomplishments. (One grainy photograph even showed him proudly displaying his first tooth!)

      Then, late one afternoon, while I was performing a most mundane function—washing my hands in a men’s room at Gatwick airport, where I was...

    • 9 On Causation and Displaced Rage: Forgetting What Provoked Your Indignation in the First Place
      (pp. 143-153)

      THE CONFERENCE WENT WELL. My dinner speech, fortified by a few choice ideas from that airport talk, received a standing ovation. I ran into several old friends from the States, a few classmates from my own law school days, and even Laz late one afternoon in a near-deserted corridor in the giant conference hotel. We talked for a few minutes about whether a follower of Fish could condemn without absolutes,¹ and I called in his promise to tell me his views, as a conservative, on legal formalism, which he did. Laz and Rodrigo’s panel session went well, so far as...

    • 10 Selling Short: The Rise and Fall of African American Fortunes
      (pp. 154-161)

      WHEN I EASED into the breakfast line in the hotel cafeteria early the next morning, at least half the guests were wearing some type of exercise outfit. It came as no surprise, then, when I spied my two young friends, a little ahead of me in line, wearing running gear and conversing animatedly as they picked out their breakfast food. I selected mine—my usual oatmeal with raisins and low-fat milk—and followed them to an empty table.

      “We’ve decided to give you a break,” Rodrigo said, picking up his plates, heaped high with scrambled eggs, coffee, and toast, and...

    • 11 Black Exceptionalism: Two Mistakes
      (pp. 162-184)

      I WAS SITTING in a booth in the basement coffee shop of the giant hotel where the AALS annual meeting was being held, eyeing a small pot of tea steeping on the small round formica table in front of me. I had gone there to calm my nerves after what seemed like an unending three-day round of thirty-second conversations with wired law professors, mostly younger than I, and a series of panel discussions and talks conducted in a form of high-Crit academic language, full of terms like “reification,” “hypostosizing,” and “hegemony” that I had trouble following. Maybe I’m too old...

  8. Epilogue
    (pp. 185-186)

    THE NEXT DAY, on the plane back to home and Teresa, I reflected on the many conversations I had had with Rodrigo and his friends since his miraculous return from exile off the coast of Baja. I recalled our discussions of justice at war, and Rodrigo’s startling but well documented assertion that conflict is the usual state of affairs in American law and politics, and that war only seems like an exception to those whose lives do not constantly bump up against our legal system. I recalled his suggestion, impressive for a young Marxist, that the solution to the problem...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 187-218)
  10. About the Author
    (pp. 219-219)