The Freedom to Be Racist? How the United States and Europe Struggle to Preserve Freedom and Combat Racism

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-09-05
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Since the end of World War II, the balance between freedom of expression and the desire to deter racist speech has gradually tipped toward the latter throughout much of the Western world.The Freedom to Be Racist?focuses on the tension between combating racism and protecting freedom of speech in the US, France, Britain, and Germany from 1945 to the present, and offers ways forward for the future. In the recent histories of each of these countries, Erik Bleich identifies a general trend toward curbing racism that has restricted freedom in Western democracies. Yet, the way this trend plays out in all these nations is not necessarily uniform, and the implications of this on the way nations handle racism is immense. Using the comparative differences between the level of tolerance for racist expression and the extent to which racist practice is restricted in each of these four countries, he analyzes how the discrepancies lead to questions about the 'best' way to approach this thorny issue. Ultimately, Bleich's study leads him to take a prescriptive stance. While he favors restricting speech freedoms in certain countries because of their unique historical legacies, he recommends it only to safeguard public goods such as civil order and national cohesion rather than protect against private evils such as personal offense or psychological harm. In any event, he concludes, arriving at the most appropriate individual solutions will require an increase in civic engagement across all countries. With its vivid detail and integrative, transnational approach,The Freedom to Be Racist?provides a unique look at a puzzling dilemma that Western societies have only begun to think about resolving.

Author Biography

Erik Bleich is Professor of Political Science at Middlebury College, and author of Race Politics in Britain and France.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Balancing Public ValuesłThe Big Picturep. 3
Freedom, Of Expression
European Restrictionism and Its Variationsp. 7
Holocaust Denial and Its Extremesp. 44
American Exceptionalism and Its Limitsp. 62
Freedom of Association and Opinion as Motive
Banning Racist Groups and Partiesp. 85
Punishing Racial Discrimination and Hate Crimesp. 106
How Much Freedom for Racists?p. 133
Notesp. 157
Referencesp. 185
Case Indexp. 197
Indexp. 199
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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