Writing at The New Republic, John McWhorter reviews Michael Tonry's new book Punishing Race: A Continuing American Dilemma. It's a provocative essay, particularly because McWhorter, who has called ending the drug war "the most meaningfully pro-black policy today," strongly challenges Tonry's argument that the drug war itself has been motivated by racism:
The drive to parse the War on Drugs as "the new racism" is its own manifestation of paranoid style. It reduces a complex amalgam of good intentions, unintended consequences, and mission creep—in sum, history—to a Manichaean opposition between clueless, overfed white oppressors and powerless black subalterns. It is an easy score, appealing to the part of us that played cops and robbers as children, and gets off on conspiracy theories as adults.