Thomas Sowel Quotes

History as a balm for wounded egos is likewise suspect. -- P. 252

With all of its intellectual and material accomplishments, Mayan civilization could hardly be considered humanitarian. One of its central priorities was war and one of its chief priorities in war was the capture, torture, and slaughter of enemy soldiers and leaders...While atrocities have occurred around the world, this was a society in which such behavior was not simply accepted, but systematized and celebrated. -- P. 267

-the same story can be told of reformers who decry 'sweatshop labor' in Third World countries who export their products to the United States to be sold in American stores. Nothing is easier than to take cheap shots at those stores for 'exploiting' Third World people- and nothing will hurt those Third World people more surely than losing one of their few meager opportunities to earn incomes by producing at lower costs than more fortunate people in more industrial countries. -- P. 130

Often the character of a community includes a bucolic setting or expansive views of the surrounding area which those who live there cherish. But they did not buy those settings or those views or pay to have them guaranteed to remain the same in perpetuity. Other people with other preferences have had the same rights under the Constitution, at least until courts began to erode both property rights and the 'equal protection of the laws' prescribed by the Fourteenth Amendment. -- P. 35

Everything fails by irrelevant standards. -- P. 207

The language of politics, and especially of ideological politics, is often categorical language about 'rights,' about eliminating certain evils, guaranteeing certain benefits, or protecting certain habitats and species...Indirectly but inexorably, this language says that the preferences of the anointed are to supersede the preferences of everyone else. -- P. 142

The story of how human beings treat other human beings when they have unbridled power over them is seldom a pretty story or even a decent story, regardless of the color of the people involved. -- P. 138

Widespread personification of ‘society’ is another verbal tactic that evades issues of personal responsibility. Such use of the term ‘society’ is a more sophisticated version of the notion that ‘the devil made me do it.’ Like much of the rest of the special vocabulary of the anointed, it is used as a magic word to make choice, behavior, and performance vanish into thin air. — P. 199

Frederick Law Olmsted‘s response to the claim that blacks were no more capable of being educated than animals were was to ask why there were no laws forbidding animals from being educated. The very need for such a law undermined the belief that was used to justify the law. -- P. 168

The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive. — Chapter: "The Survival of the Left"

Ideological double standards have become so common in the academic world that any criticism of them is treated as an attack on their particular groups receiving benefits. Those who criticize double standards for minorities are almost certain t be labeled 'racist' while those who criticize double standards for homosexuals will automatically be labeled 'homophobic' and those who criticize double standards for radical feminists will be labeled 'sexist.' -- P. 278

Some of the worst poverty in the world today can be found in thinly-populated regions like sub-Saharan Africa. Meanwhile, population density is several times higher in much more prosperous Japan. There are also densely populated poor countries, such as Bangladesh, but there are even more densely populated places like Switzerland and Singapore, with far higher standards. -- P. 215

To say that a shoe shine boy earns 'too little' or a surgeon 'too much' is to say that third parties should have the right to preempt the decisions of those who elected to spend their money on shoes or surgery. -- P. 212

In short, no matter what happens, the vision of the anointed always succeeds, if not by the original criteria, then by criteria extemporized later-and if not by empirical evidence, then by criteria sufficiently subjective to escape even the possibility of refutation. Evidence becomes Irrelevant. -- P. 15

Perfect students with perfect parents in a perfect society cannot learn things that they are not being taught- and that includes an increasing number of basic things in our public schools. -- P. 217

One third of free colored families in New Orleans owned slaves and 3,000 'free persons of color' joined the Confederate army during the Civil War. Charleston, another exception, had many slave-owning 'free persons of color' from the British West Indies and Santo Domingo. -- P. 161

When the U.S. Supreme Court declared in 1954 that separate schools were inherently inferior, within walking distance of the Court was an all-black public school whose performance had equaled or surpassed that of white schools in the District of Columbia for more than 80 years. -- P. 83

reach the top ten percent in individual income required an income of $87,300 in 2004. -- P. 138

Media and even academic preoccupation with instant snapshot statistics create major distortions of economic reality. 'The rich' and 'the poor' have become staples of income discussions, even though most of the people in the top and bottom income categories are the same people at different stages of their lives, rather than fixed classes of people who remain at the top and bottom throughout their lives. -- P. 168

Both internally and internationally, Western intellectuals have for centuries romanticized 'noble savages' in various parts of the world, peoples who supposedly lived in some sort of Eden before evil was introduced from outside by modern Western society. Facts about the carnage, oppression, or brutality in such societies have been gilded over, totally ignored, or brazenly denied by those pursuing a vision- and disseminating that vision through their writings, teachings, motion pictures and other channels. -- P. 351