Thursday, December 20, 2007

Friday Night Frozen Dinner and an Intellectual: "Black Rednecks and White Liberals" by Thomas Sowell, Part IV.

This last review of Thomas Sowell's "Black Rednecks and White Liberals" ( ) will briefly consider three other essays that appear in this book.

In "The Real History of Slavery", Sowell attacks the current politically correct view of slavery as primarily the product of Western Civilization colonizing other nations and coercing the vanquished into forced labor. Sowell does not excuse Western participation in the practice of slavery, but he points out that slavery was a worldwide institution, not just the practice of Europe and America. Africa kept more African slaves than were exported to the West; by far, slavery as practiced by the Muslim world was more severe than that practiced by the Americans. Sowell also takes on the notion that slavery was racist in its origins; all races that were victorious over enemies enslaved the vanquished. However, only one region of the world developed a conscience over slavery and that was the Western world. It was the West, primarily Britain, that used its military might to put an end to slavery worldwide. It was the rest of the world that resisted the West on this issue for more than a century. Of all the nations of the world, only one fought a war to end slavery, the United States. The ideals and convictions that helped bring about slavery's demise in the West did not exist in other parts of the globe. Sowell, an African American, believes that the Founding Fathers were justified in not insisting slavery be excluded from the new United States. Their position laid the groundwork for a free America in both the North and South. Southern slavery would have existed longer otherwise because a separate Southern nation would have isolated itself from the moral concerns of other nations.

In "Black Education: Achievements, Myths and Tragedies", Sowell gives us a history of the education of American blacks that one does not hear much about. The prevailing view of the educational establishment is that poverty and racism makes it impossible for minorities to achieve on the same level as white students. Standards must be lowered for minorities to succeed in school. Yet from the end of the Civil War to the 1960's, black education thrived and was a factor in helping African Americans raise themselves out of poverty. This history is often suppressed because the educational elites feel threatened by it; they have too much invested in their own failed systems which have not produced the same level of success as the earlier methodologies. For instance, after the Civil War, Northern whites came to the South to establish Missionary Schools. They not only taught black children, but brought with them a whole new culture which gave blacks a new outlook on life which allowed them to raise their standards of living and participate in the American dream in spite of all the obstacles standing in their way.

Sowell's final essay, "History Verses Visions", is an attack upon multiculturalism. He views muticulturalism as rooted in a false portrayal of history in which the achievers succeeded only through luck, economic advantage and exploitation of the poor and minorities. Sowell claims that the main evil of this approach is that the real pathways for achievement and economic security are ignored while failed methodologies keep the poor in poverty. Sowell's explanation in his own words can be seen in my next post, a "Quotes and Facts" feature.

There are two other essays in "Black Rednecks and White Liberals": one on German guilt for World War II and the Holocaust and one on the history of immigrant groups surviving and thriving in other lands.

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