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by Thomas Sowell

Pub Date: March 12th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-465-05872-3
Publisher: Basic

A conservative professor of economics and public policy argues that conventional attitudes about racism and social injustice are not only wrong, but harmful as well, in an analysis that will spark outrage among the liberal intellectuals that he targets.

Sowell (The Housing Boom and Bust, 2009, etc.) understates the case when he writes that he has arrived at “many conclusions very different from those currently prevailing in the media, in politics or in academia.” The result of that common liberal consensus, he charges, “has been a steady drumbeat of grievance and victimhood ideologies, from the media, from educational institutions and from other institutions permeated by the vision of the intelligentsia.” As a member of the media, an educator, an intellectual and a black man (who often writes about racial issues from a conservative perspective), Sowell relishes his role as provocateur. Of course, the author’s version of truth serves an agenda suggesting that the black community might have been better off before initiatives such as civil rights and affirmative action and that blaming society for the inequities suffered by minorities represents “a long tradition of intellectuals who more or less automatically transform differences into inequities and inequities into the evils or shortcomings of society.” Even if blacks have less opportunity than whites, achieve less and commit more crime, he writes, these are not the results of oppression, and they can’t be resolved by “a lifestyle of dependency.” Instead, “those who lag, for whatever reasons, face a daunting task of bringing themselves up to the rest of society in knowledge, skills and experience—and in the attitudes necessary to acquire this knowledge and these skills and experience.” In other words, the problem isn’t white racism but black attitudes.

The benefit of slavery is but one of the firebombs lobbed within a book that more are likely to find infuriating than enlightening.