Be the People: A Call to Reclaim America’s Faith and Promise by Carol Swain
Before beginning Be the People, I expected a conglomeration of conservative buzzwords, overworked arguments, and vehement attacks on contrary opinions. Instead, I found freshly-turned arguments and, for the most part, careful research and disciplined discussion.
Carol Swain has a unique position in presenting this book. As academic, African American, and female, she makes herself a tempting target because of the conservative stances she embraces. She knowingly faces probable ridicule, and for that I say this is a very brave book, whether you agree with all her positions or not. Also, in her criticism, Swain avoids self-righteousness, confessing her own past actions that fail the standard she sets in the book. Putting herself on the line and admitting her failures makes her, in my opinion, more credible and renders her positions worth examining.
Basing her arguments on the notion that America was set up as “a city on a hill,” an example of right government and living to the world, Swain posits that America has fallen away from a covenant set up by its forefathers. Swain traces this theme through a variety of issues, including abortion, homosexuality, and immigration. On this last issue, Swain seems to have the most expertise and weaves some of her more original arguments.
Many of Swain’s examples point back to President Obama and his election. This theme seems to be the catalyst for the book, and Swain seems to make Obama an example, and perhaps even the prime example, of the problems facing the United States.
Weak points of the book include Swain’s overly broad audience, which includes faithful Christians, conservative academics, and secular humanists. On one page she seems to be calling on the converted, the next she seems to address a “lost” America.