Thomas Sowel Quotes

Although slavery has come to be identified with the enslavement of Africans, that too ignores the long history and vast scope of the institution. The very word 'slave' is derived from the Slaves, who were enslaved on a massive scale and were often sold into bondage all across the continent of Europe an in the Ottoman Empire. -- P. 186

-while man may discriminate against various minorities, nature discriminates against whole nations and continents. -- P. 348

Another major difference between private and governmental institutions is that, no matter how big and successful a private business is, it can always be forced out of business when it is no longer satisfying its customers — whether because of its own inadequacies or because competing firms or alternative technologies can satisfy the customers better. Government agencies, however, can continue on despite demonstrable failures, and the power of government can prevent rivals from arising. — P.13

Distinguishing discrimination from differences in qualifications and performance is not easy in practice, though the distinction is fundamental in principle. -- P. 140

Given the unique- and uniquely oppressive- history of blacks, it would follow almost inevitably from the civil rights vision that blacks would today suffer far more than other groups from low income, broken homes, and the whole litany of social pathologies. But like so many things that follow from the civil rights vision, it happens not to be true in fact...Both the domestic and the international examples suggest that what is most dramatic, most historic, or most morally revolting need not coincide with what is most economically determining. In short, the historical uniqueness of blacks has not translated into a contemporary uniqueness in incomes, occupations, I.Q., unemployment, female headed households, alcoholism, or welfare dependency, however much blacks may differ from the mythical national average in these respects. All of these represent serious difficulties (sometimes larger calamities) for blacks, and indirectly for the larger society, but the question here is the cause. If that cause is either a unique history or a unique genetics, blacks would differ not only from the national average but also from other groups that share neither that history nor the same genetic background. -- P. 74 - 75

Education and acculturation in general spread very unevenly among American Negroes- first reaching the house servants and later the field hands, first the free then the slaves, first the mulattos and then the blacks. These large historical social disparities within the African origin population of the United States were reflected in the fact that some American Negroes graduated from college before slavery was abolished...Throughout the era of slavery, free mulattos in the Western Hemisphere tended to distance themselves socially from blacks, both slave and free...the elite among American Negroes tended to remain, for generations after emancipation, a distinctly lighter-complexioned and socially exclusive group. -- P. 164 - 165

Thus the institution of slavery, existing on every continent and going back thousands of years, is often discussed as if it were peculiar to Western civilization when, in fact, even the African slave trade was carried on by Arabs for centuries before Europeans took part, and continued for at least another century after the European slave trade to the Western Hemisphere ended. . . At the heart of the story was the West‘s ending of slavery in its own domains within a century and maintaining pressure on other nations for even longer to stamp out this practice. Instead, the West has been singled out as peculiarly culpable for a worldwide evil in which it participated, when in fact its only real uniqueness was in ultimately opposing and destroying the evil. -- P. 149 - 150

-trees that newspapers are made from automatically recycled themselves for thousands of years before human being figured out how to plant seeds. -- P. 312

Even in the twenty-first century, 'two-thirds of the world‘s illiterate adults are women,' according to the Economist magazine. However, at the other end of the educational spectrum, women in the most industrially advanced countries are going on to higher education in numbers comparable to men- and, in some countries, more often than men. -- P. 56

For a particular minority group to become dominant in retailing or money-lending, whether at a high or a low economic level, means that their behavior pattern must be fundamentally different from that of the surrounding population. -- P. 72

The Aztecs, like such other conquers as the Mongols, used terror as a weapon to demoralize their enemies and keep the subjugated peoples in line. -- P. 277

-sweeping dismissals of the past are more than just a passing fashion or a personal vanity. They are a dangerous destruction of the hard-earned experience of millions of human beings, living through centuries of struggle with the tragedy of the human condition, and the replacement of this rich legacy with unsubstantiated and self-flattering fancies. -- P. 253

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 black‘s own self-advancement. -- P. 55

Since the United States contains several times as many billionaires as any other country, ordinary Americans would be among the most poverty-stricken people in the world if the wealth of the wealthy derives from the poverty of the poor. -- P. 134

Despite many depictions of the elderly as people struggling to get by, households headed by people aged 70 to 74 have the highest average wealth of any age bracket in American society. -- P. 136

People do not change their vision of the world the way they change cloths or replace light bulbs. But change they must if they mean to survive. No individual (or group) is going to capture all of reality in his vision. If the only reaction to other visions- or uncomfortable evidence- is blind mudslinging, then the limitations that are common to all human beings become, for them, ideological prisons. -- P. 140

It is not visions that are dangerous. What is dangerous are insulated visions. -- P. 141

Many racial policies continually add to the pile of combustible material, which only needs the right political arsonist to set it off. -- P. 118

Whenever A can get B to do what A wishes, then A has "power" over B, according to the results-oriented definition of the unconstrained vision...But if B is in a process in which he has at least as many options as he had before A came along, then A has not "restricted" B‘s choices, and so has no "power" over him, by the process definition used by Bauer and characteristic of the constrained vision. -- P. 160

Europeans became mass traders of African slaves largely by purchase from Africa‘s more powerful tribes and empires. -- P. 195