Consider this factoid: The US incarceration rate is 748 per 100,000, and among African Americans the rate is 7,110 per 100,000.
Now a quick quiz. When you read this factoid was your reaction 1 or 2?
- There’s deep pathology in the American black community, and its leaders should be working to fix that.
- There’s something deeply unfair in our criminal justice system, and it needs to be changed.
If you answered 1, in Brown University political scientist James Morone’s taxonomy you are a Puritan and a moralist, who tends to find the origins of social problems in the behavior of individuals. And if your answer was 2, you are an advocate of the social gospel, which tends to see social problems as systemic problems.
In his talk, Hellfire Nation: Saints and sinners in American politics (iTunes) Morone puts forth the thesis that American politics can be seen largely as the conflict between these two points of view. Morone speaks with great energy and enthusiasm, and will likely have you nodding in agreement by the end of the lecture.
Note for iTunes U browsers: This lecture is part of the Brown University Alumni Association’s Back to Class collection on iTunes U. This kind of collection, often with names like “Alumni Weekend ” or “Alumni Speakers” is a good place to browse for interesting lectures. And it makes sense – when universities are courting their alumni, they want to feature their most interesting most dynamic speakers.