A Colony In A Nation
In a new book, A Colony In A Nation, talkative TV commentator Chris Hayes addresses racism by suggesting that US culture is made up of two separate classes like those which existed in the colonial era: a ruling foreign elite and an unjustly taxed group. He compares the present day treatment of black and brown citizens to colonial America and the practice of the English monarchy to tax and oppress with little understanding of the injustices of the situation.
In colonial days, whether in America, Asia or in Africa, the military and police were the enforcers of order including the collection of taxes. Colonial authorities notoriously lived set apart and had little understanding of the life of the colonial subjects.
The book is really a critique of the US criminal justice system. Hayes demonstrates the two tier system for maintaining order and meting out punishment: one is the type found in a democracy and the other is the type found in a “police state” in occupied land. Maintaining order is the operating principle in a police state.
Hayes cites the many instances of blacks being killed by police to illustrate his point that there is a two tiered enforcement code existing in the US. What can lead to a police shooting in the “colony” may be just an inconvenient traffic stop in the “nation”. He demonstrates this idea by reviewing the history of getting tough on crime, mandatory minimum sentences and an insistence on law and order from the Nixon era to the recent surge in police shootings.
The author’s best contribution to an understanding of his basic premise is his treatment of policing practices in America’s elite universities which have their own police departments to control behavior of rambunctious undergraduate students. He maintains that behavior which could send a person to prison in the “colony” can result in a mere reprimand in the blissful atmosphere of the elite campus. The toleration of out of control drinking is the most obvious example of selected maintenance of order on campuses. The most egregious example he addresses is the handling of rape cases through university review boards which have come under criticism for lower standards of evidence than in civil courts. Some accepted behavior on campuses is not tolerated in the “colony”.
Hayes has provided a well-researched book which can serve to prick the consciences of white Americans to get them to reflect on how concern for the maintenance of law and order has contribute to the continuous separation of groups in our country.