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Intellectuals and Race

2013 nonfiction book by Thomas Sowell

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Thomas Sowell's treatise on the state of race relations in America is simply brilliant.

  • Mar 18, 2013
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"There is no subject that is more in need of dispassionate analysis, careful factual research and a fearless and honest discussion than is race." -- p 3

It is a book that is long overdue. Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher and the author of more than three-dozen books. Sowell is an African-American who takes great umbrage at the views being espoused by the chattering class of American intellectuals who continue to advance the notion that society-at-large is to blame for the social and economic disparities that exist in our nation. According to the intelligentsia, deep-seated racism continues to be present in the minds of most white Americans. In his superb new book "Intellectuals and Race" Dr. Sowell thoroughly and systematically dismantles the liberal argument about race. In this meticulously researched offering Sowell takes a look at societies around the world to back up his assertions. Time and again he demonstrates that more often than not it is internal factors within a race or group of people that account for many of these disparities. He compares the problems plaguing the white lower class in Britain with those of African-Americans here in America. You may be quite surprised to discover that the problems facing both groups are virtually identical and have continued to escalate over the past fifty years. The solutions offered by progressives and liberals have clearly not worked. Thomas Sowell believes he has key to solving many of these persistent problems.

In "Intellectuals and Race" Thomas Sowell gets us all up to speed with the history of intellectual thought about race over the past 100 years. There are some fascinating twists and turns along the way. In the early part of the century progressive intellectuals clearly sided with people like Margaret Sanger and author Madison Grant who favored the sterilization of males in what were considered to be "undesirable" populations including Negroes, southern whites, and immigrants from southern Europe. You will discover that the Progressive view of the world began to shift significantly in the 1930s. The intelligentsia had at long last come to the conclusion that there were really no substantive differences in mental ability between the races. But during World War II the Progressives, who now had re-branded themselves as "liberals", began to attribute socioeconomic disparities between races to racism. Liberals steadfastly refused to assign any of the blame to the internal cultural environment of the minorities themselves. Rather, the genesis of the entire problem was said to be in the minds of evil white people. By cleverly positioning themselves in this way the intellectuals could claim the moral high ground by being against the so-called "oppressors" and on the side of the downtrodden. Some 70 years later this continues to be the case and Thomas Sowell points out why this set of circumstances has caused incalculable harm to the African-American community and to other minorities as well.

You may recall that the initial thrust of the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King was simply to extend the same rights to all citizens regardless of race. But according to Sowell, the tumultuous events of the late 1960's encouraged radical elements within the black community to call for a dramatic new approach. Thus, the era of multiculturalism was born. It fit perfectly into the Progressive narrative. Less fortunate groups were not to be blamed for disparities in income, education, crime rates or family disintegration, lest observers be guilty of "blaming the victim" instead of indicting society. Sowell discusses the ramifications of this controversial philosophy and also devotes a section of the final chapter to what he calls "The Race Industry". As you might expect he finds just about all of this stuff to be extremely counterproductive.

The sad fact of the matter is that liberal politicians and commentators have been successfully playing this game for more than half a century now. Unfortunately, it is going to be extremely difficult to repair the damage that has already been done. We need to begin to change hearts and minds about race in this nation. Bill Cosby has attempted to lead the way on a couple of occasions and has been roundly criticized for his efforts. Nevertheless, I truly believe that Thomas Sowell is onto something quite profound here and he presents his case in a very logical, thoughtful and courageous way. I found "Intellectuals and Race" to be an particularly well written book and at a mere 140 pages it can be read in just a couple of sittings. Trust me when I tell you that there is an abundance of common sense in this volume. Very highly recommended!

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Paul Tognetti ()
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I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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