Thomas Sowel Quotes

The covert methods by which affirmative action has been foisted on a society that rejects it, the vengeful manner in which busing has been imposed without regard for the welfare of children, and the lofty contempt of a remote and insulated elite for the mass of citizens whose feelings and interests are treated as expendable, or dismissed as mere 'racism,' provide the classic ingredients of blindness and hubris that have produced so many human tragedies. However much history may be invoked in support of these policies, no policy can apply to history but can only apply to the present or the future. The past may be many things, but it is clearly irrevocable. Its sins can no more be purged than its achievements can be expunged. Those who suffered in centuries past are as much beyond our help as those who sinned are beyond our retribution. To dress up present-day people in the costumes and labels of history and symbolically try to undo the past is to surpass Don Quixote and jeopardize reality in the name of visions. To do so in ways that harm the already disadvantaged is to skirt the boundaries of sanity and violate the very claims of compassion used to justify it. -- P. 119

-some professors at various colleges and universities have openly admitted to selecting textbooks on the basis of bonuses paid to them by the publishers of particular books. -- P. 90

Unionization drove out blacks in two ways: (1) directly through discriminatory rules and policies, and (2) indirectly, by artificially raising the wage rates and making them uniform. -- P. 89

For businesses in general, whether large or small, the availability of other people‘s money is often crucial. Without property rights, lenders are reluctant to lend to people who do not have the cash to pay then back- and whose homes or other assets are not recognized as theirs by the legal system, and therefore cannot be used as collateral that can be foreclosed and transferred to the lender in case of default. -- P. 202

“Four things have almost invariably followed the imposition of controls to keep prices below the level they would reach under supply and demand in a free market: (1) increased use of the product or service whose price is controlled, (2) Reduced supply of the same product or service, (3) quality deterioration, (4) black markets.” — P.93

The official ideology that race did not matter under Communism, that all were one 'Soviet people,' was ultimately exposed as a bitter mockery when the easing of central government control in the late 1980s released lethal inter-ethnic violence in Soviet Georgia, in Azerbaijan, and in Central Asia...The final irony was that racial, ethnic, and nationality clashes- all regarded as passing anachronisms by Marxist theory, and as having been abolished by Soviet practice- not only persisted, but themselves played a major role in abolishing the Soviet Union. -- P. 246

What is truly surprising- and relatively ignored- is the economic impact of affirmative action on the disadvantaged, for whom it is most insistently invoked. The relative position of disadvantaged individuals within the groups singled out for preferential treatment has generally declined under affirmative action. -- P. 51

Some seem to argue as if any historical or contemporary source of unhappiness which a government could have prevented is something for which it should be held morally accountable-regardless of whether the government or the society created the source of unhappiness. -- P. 249

In some Islamic countries in Africa and the Middle East, slavery lasted even longer. Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, and the Sudan continued to hold slaves on past the middle of the Twentieth century. Mauritania officially abolished slavery in 1980, though its own government admitted that the practice continues nevertheless. -- P. 112

Carrying safety-first to such extremes on all the millions of products in the economy would raise costs in general and correspondingly lower real income and living standard of the public. -- P. 71

The indigenous population of the Western Hemisphere was all but exterminated by their sudden exposure to the diseases of Europe and Africa-far more so than by the military campaigns which occupy so much of history. -- P. 78

-the crucial factors in the cost of discrimination have been the presence or absence of competition and whether those making the decisions have been spending their own money or someone else‘s money. -- P. 178

In countries around the world, discrimination by government has been greater than discrimination by businesses operating in competitive markets. -- P. 143

Note that merely killing middleman minorities was not considered sufficient. Gratuitous infliction of both physical and psychic pain has marked violence against the Chinese in Southeast Asia, as well as against the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, and the Jews in Europe. This suggests that what their enemies feel is not simply a need to be rid of them but also a need to rid themselves of feelings of inferiority by subjecting middleman minorities to humiliation and dehumanization. -- P. 103

Ironically, when some blacks in the twentieth century began repudiating what they call 'slave names,' they often took Arabic names, even though Arabs over the centuries had enslaved more Africans than Europeans had. -- P. 163

Could slavery have been ended by the Civil War if television cameras had shown daily scenes of the horrors of Sherman‘s march through Georgia or the appalling sufferings of civilians in besieged Vicksburg? -- P. 258

-over the centuries, somewhere in the neighborhood of 11 million people were shipped across the Atlantic as slaves, and another 14 million African slaves were sent to the Islamic nations of the Middle East and North Africa. On both routes, many died in transit. Moreover, these 25 million people were not the only African victims of slavery, for Africa itself used large numbers of slaves in many agricultural, domestic, military, and even commercial and governmental enterprises. -- P. 111

New England Puritans differed not only from the backwater people of the South, but also from the Southern tidewater aristocracy, who settled on the coastal plains of the American eastern seaboard and who originated largely in southern and western parts of England with a long tradition of very hierarchical societies, including, during the early middle ages, slavery. -- P. 80

In every aspect of our lives, we all stand on the shoulders of giants, and all those giants were not in the past. The principles of aerodynamics were not discovered by the Wright brothers. They were simply the first to get a plane off the ground. -- P. 84

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