Breaking the Cycles of Hatred represents a unique blend of political and legal theory, one that focuses on the double-edged role of memory in fueling cycles of hatred and maintaining justice and personal integrity. Its centerpiece comprises three penetrating essays by Minow. She argues that innovative legal institutions and practices, such as truth commissions and civil damage actions against groups that sponsor hate, often work better than more conventional criminal proceedings and sanctions. Minow also calls for more sustained attention to the underlying dynamics of violence, the connections between intergroup and intrafamily violence, and the wide range of possible responses to violence beyond criminalization.
A vibrant set of freestanding responses from experts in political theory, psychology, history, and law examines past and potential avenues for breaking cycles of violence and for deepening our capacity to avoid becoming what we hate. The topics include hate crimes and hate-crimes legislation, child sexual abuse and the statute of limitations, and the American kidnapping and internment of Japanese Latin Americans during World War II. Commissioned by Nancy Rosenblum, the essays are by Ross E. Cheit, Marc Galanter, Fredrick C. Harris, Judith Lewis Herman, Carey Jaros, Frederick M. Lawrence, Austin Sarat, Ayelet Shachar, Eric K. Yamamoto, and Iris Marion Young.
Martha Minow takes a hard look at the way our legal system functions in dealing with people on the basis of race, gender, age, ethnicity, religion, and disability. Minow confronts a variety of dilemmas of difference resulting from contradictory legal strategies—strategies that attempt to correct inequalities by sometimes recognizing and sometimes ignoring differences. Exploring the historical sources of ideas about difference, she offers challenging alternative ways of conceiving of traits that legal and social institutions have come to regard as "different." She argues, in effect, for a constructed jurisprudence based on the ability to recognize and work with perceptible forms of difference.
Minow is passionately interested in the people—"different" people—whose lives are regularly (mis)shaped and (mis)directed by the legal system's ways of handling them. Drawing on literary and feminist theories and the insights of anthropology and social history, she identifies the unstated assumptions that tend to regenerate discrimination through the very reforms that are supposed to eliminate it. Education for handicapped children, conflicts between job and family responsibilities, bilingual education, Native American land claims—these are among the concrete problems she discusses from a fresh angle of vision.
Minow firmly rejects the prevailing conception of the self that she believes underlies legal doctrine—a self seen as either separate and autonomous, or else disabled and incompetent in some way. In contrast, she regards the self as being realized through connection, capable of shaping an identity only in relationship to other people. She shifts the focus for problem solving from the "different" person to the relationships that construct that difference, and she proposes an analysis that can turn "difference" from a basis of stigma and a rationale for unequal treatment into a point of human connection. "The meanings of many differences can change when people locate and revise their relationships to difference," she asserts. "The student in a wheelchair becomes less different when the building designed without him in mind is altered to permit his access." Her book evaluates contemporary legal theories and reformulates legal rights for women, children, persons with disabilities, and others historically identified as different.
Here is a powerful voice for change, speaking to issues that permeate our daily lives and form a central part of the work of law. By illuminating the many ways in which people differ from one another, this book shows how lawyers, political theorist, teachers, parents, students—every one of us—can make all the difference,
Building on such examples, the contributors examine the role of tolerance in practical encounters between state officials and immigrants, and between members of longstanding majority groups and increasing numbers of minority groups. The volume also considers the theoretical implications of expanding the realm of tolerance. Some contributors are reluctant to broaden the scope of tolerance, while others insist that the notion of "tolerance" is itself potentially confining and demeaning and that modern nations should aspire to celebrate cultural differences.
Coming to terms with ethnic diversity and cultural differences has become a major public policy concern in contemporary liberal democracies, as they struggle to adjust to burgeoning immigrant populations. Engaging Cultural Differences provides a compelling examination of the challenges of multiculturalism and reveals a deep understanding of the challenges democracies face as they seek to accommodate their citizens' diverse beliefs and practices.