My Book World
Crabapple. Divide: American Injustice
in the Age of the Wealth Gap. New
York: Spiegel, 2014.
Once again I discover a writer well-known to others by way of C-SPAN’s Book-TV. On June 4, 2017, Matt Taibbi appeared on In Depth, a three-hour interview conducted by Peter Slen, and there Mr. Taibbi discusses his entire oeuvre, eight books written since 2000. When Slen asks Taibbi which of his books he would urge readers to tackle first, he says Divide, and so that is where I begin.
Taibbi, contributor to The Rolling Stone, is adept at taking complex concepts and distilling them into words the common person can understand. The Bard College-educated man wants the reader to grasp how justice serves as a divide in this country, how, if you’re poor but especially if you’re poor and a person of color, you are subject to one form of justice, likely to spend a disproportionate time behind bars for a nonviolent crime whereas white-collar criminals (à la 2008 financial fraud cases) spend precisely no time in prison though their crimes harm millions of people and not merely in this country but around the world. Early in the book he breaks it down this way:
“We’re creating a dystopia, where the mania of the state isn’t secrecy or censorship but unfairness. Obsessed with success and wealth and despising failure and poverty, our society is systematically dividing the population into winners and losers, using institutions like the courts to speed the process. Winners get rich and get off. Losers go broke and go to jail. It isn’t just that some clever crook on Wall Street can steal a billion dollars and never see the inside of a courtroom; it’s that, plus the fact that some black teenager a few miles away can go to jail just for standing on a street corner, that makes the whole picture complete” (13).
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