I have a review of the book, Boom Town, in today’s WSJ. It was odd reading a book about prejudices that seemed to contain so many prejudices of its own. Here’s a snippet:
If Ms. Rosen had wanted to identify resistance from white, rural Christians to diverse newcomers, she should have distinguished between Arkansas’s politics and its business and social life. Businesses like Wal-Mart and Tyson are progressive engines of diversity because they will recruit and hire able workers of any color or religion. The only color they see is green. Social integration has gone smoothly because local residents, assisted by religiously backed norms of politeness, have been generally welcoming. Unlike business, politics is a zero-sum game. Good-old-boy politicians in Arkansas (or anywhere else) are more likely to think that if they share power with newly arrived groups, they will lose some of their own. The few politicians we read about in “Boom Town” illustrate this point, trying to pit low-income whites against Hispanics. Clearly, they would rather be king of the Lilliputians than share a larger empire with the area’s newer residents.