Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas Sowell
Through mastery of his subject, meticulous destruction of popular shibboleths, and bracing discussion of so much that is taboo in modern America, Thomas Sowell has cemented his reputation as one of America's leading public intellectuals. His latest offering, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, presents six cogent, painstakingly researched essays in which the author seeks "to expose some of the more blatant misconceptions poisoning race relations in our time."
The book's title essay tries to establish a linkage between the ghetto subculture of inner-city blacks and the so-called "redneck" culture brought to America by its earliest immigrants from the English borderlands, the Scottish highlands, and Ulster County, Ireland. Another essay challenges the notion that Nazism was an inevitable function of German civilization. But Sowell is at his sharpest, and most poignant, when probing the stubborn racial gap in American education. "This cannot be explained away by poverty, racism, or innate inferiority," he writes. Sowell chooses instead to stress cultural pathologies. He regrets that so few Americans have the stomach for such debates. "Whites walk on eggshells for fear of being called racists, while many blacks are preoccupied with protecting the image of black students, rather than protecting their future by telling the blunt truth."
Luckily for us, "telling the blunt truth" is a reliable hallmark of Sowell's work. Equally at ease as economist, historian, and cultural archaeologist, he keenly-and unapologetically—explores why various racial and ethnic groups have prospered while other have lagged behind.
The Weekly Standard
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This article appeared in the Winter 2005-2006 issue of the Claremont Review of Books