Thursday, December 20, 2007

Quotes and Facts: From Thomas Sowell's "Black Rednecks and White Liberals."

p. 17-18 'Comments on the lack of enterprise by Southern Whites (Before the Civil War) were made by numerous observers in various parts of the South. In Alexis de Tocquevilles's classic Democracy in America, he contrasted the attitudes toward work among Southern and Northern whites as being so great as to be visible to the casual observer sailing down the Ohio River and comparing the Ohio side with the Kentucky side. These were not just the prejudices of outsiders. "No Southern man," South Carolina's famed Senator John C. Calhoun said, "not even the poorest or the lowest, will under any circumstances ...perform menial labor...He has too much pride for that." General Robert E. Lee likewise declared: "Our people are opposed to work. Our troops officers community & press. All ridicule and resist it." "Many whites," according to a leading Southern historian,"were disposed to leave good enough alone and put off changes until the morrow." '

p.34-35 "White liberals, instead of comparing what has happened to the black family since the liberal welfare policies of the 1960s were put into practice, compare black families to white families and conclude that the higher rates of broken homes and unwed motherhood among blacks are due to "a legacy of slavery." But why the large-scale disintegration of the black family should have begun a hundred years after slavery is left unexplained. Whatever the situation of the black family relative to the white family, in the past or the present, it is clear that broken homes were far more common among blacks at the end of the twentieth century than they were in the middle of that century or at the beginning of that century-even though blacks at the beginning of the twentieth century were just one generation out of slavery. The widespread and casual abandonment of their children, and the women who bore them, by black fathers in the ghettos of the late twentieth century was in fact a painfully ironic contrast with what happened in the immediate aftermath of slavery a hundred years earlier, when observers in the South reported desperate efforts of freed blacks to find family members who have been separated from them during the era of slavery. A contemporary journalist reported meeting black men walking along the roads of Virginia and North Carolina, many of whom had walked across the state-looking for their families. Others reported similar strenuous and even desperate efforts of newly freed blacks to find members of their families."

p. 52 "By projecting a vision of a world in which the problems of blacks are the consequences of the actions of whites, either immediately or in times past, white liberals have provided a blanket excuse for shortcomings and even crimes by blacks. The very possibility of any internal cultural sources of the problems of blacks has been banished from consideration by the fashionable phrase "blaming the victim." "

p.55 "The general orientation of white liberals has been one of "What can we do for them?" What blacks can do for themselves has not only been of lesser interest, much of what blacks have in fact already done for themselves has been overshadowed by liberal attempts to get them special dispensations-whether affirmative action, reparations for slavery, or other race-based benefits-even when the net effect of these has been much less than the effects of blacks own self-advancement."

p.59 "This post-1960s black identity intolerance-promoted by white intellectuals as well as black leaders and activists-is a painful parallel to the post 1830s intolerance among white Southerners against anyone who questioned slavery in any way. Maintaining what has been aptly called an "intellectual blockade" against ideas differing from those prevailing in the South, antebellum Southerners not only insulated themselves from ideas and viewpoints originating outside the region but, at the same time, in effect drove out of the South independent-minded people who would not march in lockstep. The resulting narrow and unquestioning conformity of that era led the South into the blind alley of a Civil War that devastated wide sections of the region and left a legacy of bitterness that lasted for generations. It can only be hoped that today's narrow intolerance promoted by a black identity fetish will not lead into similarly disastrous blind alleys."

p. 116- 117 "Slavery did not die quietly of its own accord. It went down fighting to the bitter end-and it lost only because Europeans had gunpowder weapons first. The advance of European imperialism around the world marked the retreat of the slave trade and then of slavery itself. The British stamped out slavery, not only throughout the British Empire-which included one-forth of the world, whether measured in land or people-but also by its pressures and its actions against other nations."

p.122 "Slavery was destroyed within the United States at staggering costs in blood and treasure, but the struggle was over within a few ghastly years of warfare. Nevertheless, the Civil War was the bloodiest war ever fought in the Western Hemisphere, and more Americans were killed in that war than in any other war in the country's history. But this was a highly atypical-indeed, unique-way to end slavery. In most of the rest of the world, unremitting efforts to destroy the institution of slavery went on for more than a century, on a thousand shifting fronts, and in the face of determined and ingenious efforts to continue the trade in human beings."

p.154 "The Civil War that grew out of tensions over slavery was the bloodiest war ever fought in the Western Hemisphere and cost more American lives than any other war in the country's history. Whether or not those fighting on either side thought as their battles as being over slavery, as distinguished from succession, without slavery there would have been no secession and no Civil War. The states that first seceded were states where slaves were the highest percentage of the population. Contemporary words and deeds by the leaders of the Confederacy made unmistakeably clear that slavery was at the heart of their secession and that at the heart of the constitution that they established for their own new government. In later times, as slavery became ever more repugnant to people throughout Western civilization and even beyond, apologists for the South would stress other factors. But the real question is what factor moved Southern leaders when the fateful decision was made to secede-and that was "unashamedly," as a Civil War historian put it, slavery."

p.225 ""History is too often the handmaiden of contemporary visions or agendas. Accomplishments among blacks are often either magnified or downplayed, or glided over entirely, according to whether these accomplishments do or do not advance the agenda of portraying victimhood or struggles against victimhood. In this context, in is inexplicable, though hardly justified, that the history of successful black schools has attracted virtually no interest from either historians or educators. That history does not advance any contemporary political agenda, though it might help advance the education of a whole generation of black students."

p. 230 " In the first decades after the Civil War, the American Missionary Association, established thousands of schools for blacks in the South. Most of the teachers in these schools were young, unmarried women from New England, bringing with them not only academic education but also a whole culture very different from Southern society. Many black children thus acquired advantages that they would take with them into the adult world in later life. As a noted historian observed: "It was no accident that so many black leaders of the twentieth century civil rights movements came from missionary schools." "

p. 241 "...the dramatic increases in the numbers of blacks in many professional occupations in the last half of the twentieth century cannot be attributed solely-or even primarily-to the removal of these barriers by civil rights legislation. The rise of blacks into professional and other high-level occupations was greater in the years preceding passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 than in the years following the passage of that act."

p. 248 " "Multiculturalism" has not meant warts-and-all portraits of different societies around the world. For many, it has meant virtually a warts-only portrait of the West and a no-warts portrait of non-Western peoples. More is involved than a simple bias, however. The central doctrine of multiculturalism-the equality of cultures-cannot be sustained when that means equality of concrete achievements-educationally, economically, or otherwise.
"It is not only the West whose achievements must be brushed aside or glided over in silence. Particularly dangerous to contemporary visions and agendas are achievements by groups that began in poverty and rose to prosperity, such as immigrants from Japan, Italy, China, or India who settled in various countries around the world. It is not just their achievements, but the very concept of achievement, which is antithetical to the multicultural vision-and which is therefore often evaded or denied."

p. 249 "When visions or agendas suppress history, that not only distorts the achievements of groups, nations, or civilizations, it forfeits valuable knowledge as to the things that have led to past progress and can lead to progress for others who are still lagging today. In short, it sacrifices the material interests of millions for the ideological or other parochial interests of a few."

p. 250 " If the very concept of achievement is a threat to the vision, then overcoming adversity is even more of a threat. Both must be verbally transformed into privileges and advantages, in order to protect the vision."

p.267 "In a sense, it is healthy that more prosperous individuals or societies recognize that their prosperity is not all due to what they themselves have done in their own lifetimes, but is in fact the fruit of the efforts and contributions made by many other people before they were born. However, gratitude for whatever has made their prosperity possible has for many been replaced by guilt for having been more fortunate than others. Thus their forebears are seen not as having bequeathed a valuable heritage but as having perpetuated great injustices."

p. 271 "The misuse of history to condemn evils common around the world as if they were peculiarities of the West has serious practical implications. Two wrongs do not make a right but undermining the society which has the smaller evil only makes it more vulnerable to the greater evils in other societies and in international terrorist networks."

I want to point out that Sowell will italicize certain words for emphasis. I tried to italicize where he did, but technical difficulties prevented me from doing so.

"Black Rednecks and White Liberals" can be purchased by going to this link:

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