From the VG Bookshelf: Black Rednecks & White Liberals by Thomas Sowell

From the VG Bookshelf: Black Rednecks & White Liberals by Thomas Sowell

From the VG Bookshelf: Black Rednecks & White Liberals by Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell has never been one to shy away from telling the hard truths. An economist, he sees the potential pitfalls of the path our country finds itself on. As a historian, he hasn’t allowed himself to be blinded–or blackmailed–by the right think of academia. His book, Black Rednecks & White Liberals:Hope, Mercy, Justice and Autonomy in the American Health Care System is a perfect example of how he confronts the issues and presents facts and history to tear away the myths perpetuated by liberal America.

In Black Rednecks & White Liberals (BRAWL), Sowell goes one further. He exposes how liberals, especially white liberals, have caused more harm than good, despite all they crow from the proverbial mountaintop.

One of the essays in BRAWL is entitled “White Liberals” and Sowell wastes no time in getting down to business.

White liberals in many roles—as intellectuals, politicians, celebrities, judges, teachers—have aided and abetted the perpetuation of a counterproductive and self-destructive lifestyle among black rednecks. The welfare state has made it economically possible to avoid many of the painful consequences of this lifestyle that forced previous generations of blacks and whites to move away from the redneck culture and its values. Lax law enforcement has enabled the violent and criminal aspects of this culture to persist, and non-judgmental intellectual trends have enabled it to escape moral condemnation. As far back as 1901, W. E. B. Du Bois, while complaining of racial discrimination against blacks, also condemned “indiscriminate charity” for its bad effects within the black community.” (BRAWL pp 51-52)

That single paragraph strikes at the heart of so much of the liberal agenda. Welfare. Relaxation of law enforcement rules. Indiscriminate charity. Is it any wonder so many liberals, especially white ones, hate what Sowell has to say?

By projecting a vision of a world in which the problems of blacks are 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 have been banished from consideration by the fashionable phrase’blaming the victim.’” (BRAWL, pg 52)

Oh my, doesn’t that sound an awful lot like what we hear whenever someone starts questioning motivation, causation, or anything else when it comes to a cause the liberals have adopted. We are supposed to believe every woman who cries rape or sexual assault and not look at the circumstances surrounding the alleged crime because to do otherwise is to victim blame. We are supposed to take into account every time a cop is shot, especially if that cop is white and the shooter is black, the “fact” that cops are bad and have abused the African-American community for years. To do otherwise is to victim blame. Of course, that forgets one important fact, in that situation, the victim is the fallen cop and not the shooter. Except the African-American community has been assigned the status of victim by many who self-identify as liberals. Why? Because, more than 150 years ago, slavery was legal in this country. So, everything goes back to that and we, as whites, must continue to make amends for things done by people long dead.

As Sowell says, blaming “others for anything in which blacks lag has become standard operating procedure among white liberals.” (BRAWL, p 52) There is something wrong with tests if blacks don’t pass at the same levels as whites. We have professors claiming math is sexist or racist. Yet no one seems to bat an eye and ask why Asians are able to take the same tests and pass them at the same – or higher – level as whites. No one seems to worry about how Hispanic or other minorities do on these exams. Yet white liberals cry “foul!” long and loud over how these tests are biased against African-American students.

My question to those liberals: what makes the African-American student more important of a minority than the others?

It is a question that will never be answered or, if it is, will be turned against me. I’ll be accused of showing my white privilege, of not understanding the problem, of being insensitive. I will become the problem, as will anyone else who asks similar questions, at least in the minds of the liberals. After all, it is so much easier to blame the person asking the question than it is to actually consider the question, and the problem underlying it, and realize you might actually be part of the problem.

Any parent knows there comes a time when you have to tell your child you expect certain behaviors from him. There are certain social rules they have to learn and follow. There are certain levels of achievement in school they have to attain and, if they surpass them, they will be rewarded. Parents, at least good parents, don’t tend to reward or accept mediocrity from their children if their children are capable of doing more. They certainly don’t encourage it. You want the best for your children so you encourage them to do their best. THAT is how they get into the better colleges. THAT is how they find the better jobs. THAT is how they earn promotions.

And that, my friends, is something the liberals don’t discuss, much less admit, when they continue to promulgate a welfare state and a welfare state of mind.

Think about it. When is the last time you heard a liberal suggest someone might want to look at themselves, at what they did that led up to their failure? It doesn’t matter what sort of failure. It is the act of introspection in question here. According to Sowell, you don’t see liberals doing that very often. “Apparently there can only be external reasons for anything negative that happens to blacks.” (BRAWL pg 53) What a disservice that is to the African-American community. By taking this approach, you don’t allow them to grow. You allow them to make excuses and blame others without ever taking a hard look at themselves.

The incorrigibility of white society—and the corresponding futility of black efforts to improve their situation by improving their own education and other qualifications—is another leitmotif of much white liberal writing.” (BRAWL, pg 54)

Let’s all take up the cry of “White guilt! White privilege!” After all, that’s basically what the liberals are claiming. We can’t understand because of the color of our skin. It’s all our fault.

Except there’s a problem with that. Not all of us who question the cries of “white guilt” and “white privilege” are white. Another problem is those claims are only applied when someone questions a situation involved African-Americans. You don’t hear it when we discuss any other minority. Why is that? Liberal America doesn’t have an answer for that. Or, if it does, it won’t give it because it will disrupt their narrative.

Something else liberals tend to “overlook”, as Sowell points out, is the hostility – the prejudice – some members of the African-American community hold towards others: Jews, Hispanics, Whites, etc. Why don’t we hear about this? Because we are told over and over again that only whites can be prejudiced, “that racism requires power, which blacks do not have.” (BRAWL, p 54) However, as Sowell points out, “the arbitrary proviso of ‘power’ was never part of the definition of racism until racism among blacks became widespread enough to require a convenient evasion.” (BRAWL, pg 55)

Once again, the rules are changed to fit the narrative and no one had better question it or you’ll be guilty of victim-blaming, of showing your white privilege, etc. We must march to the “right” beat – or is that the “left” beat – or be condemned.

Liberals have been so busy finding excuses and immortalizing them that they have become a large part of the problem.

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 dispensations has been much less than the effects of blacks’ own self-advancement. For example, although the greatest reduction in poverty among blacks occurred before the civil rights revolution of the 1960s, the liberal vision in which black lags are explained by white oppression requires black advances to be explained by the fight against such oppression, symbolized by the civil rights legislation of the 1960s. This scenario has been repeated so often, through so many channels, that it has become a “well-known fact” by sheer repetition. Moreover, this protest-and-government-action model has become the liberals’ preferred, if not universal, model for future black advancement.” (BRAWL pp 55-56)

This sort of “help” has been anything but. How many generations do we now have of families living on welfare? Yes, welfare is necessary in some situations, but it should not be an end-all, cure-all for our nation. It should be there to help those who can’t work. It should offer training for those who can work but who lack the skills. But, for the latter, there should be a limit to how long they continue to be on the dole. It doesn’t matter what their race, color, creed or sexual identity might be. What we need to be wary of is becoming a welfare state.

But there I go again, blaming the victim and showing my white privilege. (Yes, that is my great-grandmother – my Cherokee great-grandmother – spinning in her grave at the idea of my family claiming white privilege.)

Well-meaning or not, liberals have done more harm than good. Worse, they continue to do so, without qualms and without daring to look at the impact their actions have had on a large section of our population. How do we stop it? I’m not sure we can. Not unless we are willing to stand up and speak out and face, without losing our temper or becoming defensive, the condemnation they will sling our way.

For now, we need to read more educators and authors like Sowell. We need to learn our history and learn the facts behind it – not accept the “corrected” history they would thrust down our throats.

Do yourself a favor and pick up something by Sowell and read it. You won’t regret it.

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  • John C. says:

    I have long thought it is a crying shame Thomas Sowell is too old and too sensible to run for President.

    • Amanda Green says:

      I definitely agree. Can you imagine the squealing from the Hill if he did run and win? Oh the proposed budget cuts would be glorious. VBEG

  • GWB says:

    Particularly since Amanda commented, you should go find her posts about this over on Sarah Hoyt’s blog. 🙂

    Besides the info noted above, though, the book does a great job of making the interesting argument that the pathologies of the “urban black” are really redneck behaviors. It’s a very good read.

    Also, in the second portion of the book, he talks about “economic middlemen” and how they are usually ethnic outsiders and often despised. It’s the Jews in Europe, the Chinese in Indonesia, etc. It’s also a very interesting read.

    Sowell is a really great thinker and a great writer.

    • Scott says:

      The only thing I’d disagree with is the use of the term “redneck” it actually comes from the West Virginia coal miners that were trying to unionize in the early 20th century. They were blue collar, and by all accounts hard workers. I believe that “White Trash” or “Trailer Trash” would be more accurate… I hate to see someone as intelligent and well educated as Sowell misuse the term.

      • GWB says:

        Actually, “redneck” goes back much further than that, and is primarily related to the Scots-Irish in the southern colonies. I think he would say it was misused to obtain the definition you note.

        He backs up his arguments, btw. He doesn’t make assertions about it. (It *IS* Sowell we’re talking about.)

        Oh, and he’s not talking about just “trash” behavior, but the “honor culture” and other things. I actually found it difficult to agree due to my Scots/Irish pride, but I think he’s at least partly right.

        Might sound trite, but go read the book. See if he changes your mind or not.
        (If he doesn’t, come back and let us know why!) 🙂

        • Scott says:

          Always good to read your take on things GWB, and I never have a problem being PROVEN wrong. It’s when others (usually lefties) scream that I’m wrong because I don’t agree with them that I get … annoyed… that being said, I agree with your comment “It IS Sowell”, and that alone is enough to make me decide to pick up this book (when I’ll have the time to read it is another issue entirely…)

          And I had not heard the Scots / Irish angle before ( and I also have plenty of that in my background)

          • GWB says:

            I haven’t managed to finish it, yet. 🙂 I do have the audio CDs, which is how I ‘read’ almost half of it – waiting in tunnel traffic on the afternoon commute.

      • Amanda Green says:

        GWB answered the redneck issue very well. But I highly recommend you read the book and Sowell’s explanation about the history of the term and how it has changed meanings over the years.

        That research is what sets Sowell apart from so many so-called academics today. That and the fact he can and does write in a way that keeps your interest as a reader.

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