The Twilight of Common Dreams: Why America Is Wracked by Culture Wars

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9780805040906: The Twilight of Common Dreams: Why America Is Wracked by Culture Wars

The cultural historian argues that the American Left will meet its demise in the current battles over political correctness

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From Publishers Weekly:

Although these two studies look at political correctness from opposite poles, both authors exhort us to replace polemics with rational thought. Cheney, former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, discusses postmodern thinking in academia, the arts, the media, and our legal system. She shows how fuzzy logic has weakened the standards of objectivity, pointing out as examples English and sociology faculty members who attack the scientific method and scholarly journals filled with ideologically slanted articles. Gitlin (The Sixties, Bantam, 1987) examines the question in a broader social context, believing it has been overblown by conservatives. He also criticizes liberals for abandoning their leadership role in the fight for equal rights for all. Conservatives are now the cultural arbiters, and special-interest groups from both camps are engaging in futile power struggles while the nation limps along without a sense of mission. Dinesh D'Souza's Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus (LJ 3/15/91) and Tom Englehardt's The End of Victory Culture (LJ 1/95) complement these titles. Cheney is recommended for public and academic libraries, while Gitlin will interest academic audiences. [Cheney was previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/95.]?Gary D. Barber, SUNY at Fredonia Lib.
-?Gary D. Barber, SUNY at Fredonia Lib.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

The author, a well-known cultural critic and author of The Sixties (1987), focuses on the politics of textbook adoption in Oakland, California, in the early 1990s. He sees this process as a microcosm of the ways in which the public debate of issues generates more heat than light. The textbooks under consideration, written by a well-known multiculturalist and former leftist activist, were attacked as racist; the charges, made by people who were former activists themselves, were accompanied by a level of acrimony and rage out of all proportion to the subject at hand. Meanwhile, Gitlin notes, the larger issue, the fact that state funding of education has been repeatedly slashed, goes undebated. Widening his discussion, Gitlin goes on to talk about the decline of the Left, whose preoccupation with the needs of select "identities" and "cultures" has caused the movement to squander its energy on petty turf wars. He also argues that the Right, formerly associated with privileged interests, now claims to speak for the common good and has parlayed this image into considerable political clout. Gitlin calls for a return to consensus building in this lucid, eloquent, and persuasive book, which seeks to move us out of the current climate of bitterness and hypersensitivity and toward a more reasoned debate of our most pressing social problems. Joanne Wilkinson

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