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July 31, 2006

Black Rednecks and White Liberals

Thomas Sowell – ISBN – 1594031436\

Sowell is beyond all doubt my favorite living philosopher/scholar/author/columnist. He is highly regarded by most everyone (except the Library Journal), including most of his adversaries. He writes knowledgeably, with incredible clarity—not to mention wisdom and wit.

This volume is a panoply of his breadth and skill, and recalls in part writings in others of his books. In the chapter “Are Jews Generic” one is reminded of portions of Migrations and Cultures wherein he describes varieties of culture and attitudes transplanted globally, noting that the middle-man culture is the same whether Chinese, Jewish, Ibo or Armenian. Identical approaches, which propel them to success in adopted cultures, make then anathema in all. It isn’t the race or culture, but the function and successes which others disapprove of and envy, even though the “others” would be unable to get along without them. Similarly so the chapter on “Germans and History.”

Another chapter, “Black Education,” recalls Education: Assumptions vs. History, in which he dispels the myth that black education is necessarily second rate. Numerous examples in historic times and places are recanted wherein blacks have not only succeeded but excelled in black schools--even in Washington D.C—but in another time (e.g.: Dunbar High School, then as now a ghetto school.) That was before liberals took over the establishment and began making damaging changes while offering ridiculous excuses. At one time Dunbar graduates were not required to take entrance examinations at Dartmouth, Harvard and other selective colleges.

A study done in 1970 demonstrated that of all PhD’s held by blacks at that time, more of them had graduated from Dunbar than any other black high school in the country. The first black graduate of Annapolis and the first black enlisted man to rise to a commissioned officer also came from Dunbar as did the first black female PhD, the first black full professor at a major American university, the first black federal judge, the first black general, the first black Cabinet member, the first black senator, the doctor who pioneered the use of plasma, historian Carter Woodson, author/poet Sterling Brown, musician Duke Ellington, etc. These are stunning data which liberals succeed in burying as information regarding the historic success of (some) black institutions. It can be done. It has been done! But the rules were “old fashioned” and quite different; values were instilled and success was expected, along with hard, disciplined work.

In “The Real History of Slavery” he dispels the notion that those nasty Southern gentlemen (Washington, Jefferson, etal.) were cavalier about it. In fact, they were opposed, and struggled with the conundrum of how to rid the U.S. of slavery without producing myriad other problems. What to do, for instance, with four million unemployed, illiterate blacks with few survival skills and nothing to sustain them if they were suddenly “free”? (overlooking homeless!) Should slave owners be compensated; if so, by whom? Could the two races live together compatibly? Emigration was a consideration but should it be voluntary or mandatory?

Slavery was a centuries old wrong which could not easily be righted. Numerous tangents are considered. He enquires into the rather bizarre fact that moral questions about slavery are almost exclusively Western moral questions, yet the West is always the one savaged because of their history of slavery. Non-Western societies had (and still have) little moral concern about slavery. He emphasizes that it was Western imperialism which suppressed slavery around the world.

“History vs. Visions” reminds of A Conflict of Visions, The Search for Cosmic Justice, and The Vision of the Anointed, in which he masterfully refutes the prevailing liberal myths. Things are not always as they seem, nor can they always be as you wish, and “visions” usually defy the facts on the ground. There are those omnipresent little problems, such as human nature . . . and reality; things which the liberally inclined always overlook whilst fantasizing and fashioning the “ideal society” of their visions.

Finally (best for last), the first chapter, “Black Rednecks and White Liberals” attacks the myth of black culture, demonstrating that what we now consider black culture is the cracker culture. From time immemorial it has been backward, dismissive of education, prone to violence, sexually permissive, improvident, drunken, reckless and totally lacking in entrepreneurship. If you doubt, or offended by these observations, read the book! He confirms this in spades!

What liberals wish to encourage and sustain in modern blacks is, in fact, indigenous white culture imported into the South from Europe, and which had existed for centuries before their migration. Even the terms “redneck” and “cracker” came over on the boat. “The disparities found between Southern whites and Northern whites in the past are today taken as proof of racial discrimination. [These disparities are now] found between the black and white populations of the country. [Some] have taken such disparities as signs of genetic deficiencies. Yet clearly neither racial discrimination nor racial inferiority can explain similar differences between whites in the North and the South in earlier centuries . . . which should at least raise questions about such explanations when applied to blacks of a later era who inherited the culture of white Southerners.”

The questions are not raised, of course, since they would challenge the liberal vision.

This is a fascinating tome and a great introduction to Thomas Sowell for those of you unfamiliar with genius of this man (who, by the way, is black and completely self-made.)

Posted by respeto at July 31, 2006 12:03 PM