Another book filched for me by the sainted staff of Dimond Library at the University Near Here; this time, from the Harry A. B. and Gertrude C. Shapiro Library at Southern New Hampshire University. Thanks to all involved.
Here, Thomas Sowell examines the topic of how intellectuals have influenced racial and ethnic issues over the years. For anyone who's even slightly familiar with Sowell's work, the answer will not be surprising: their influence was bad, although it often veered into the horrible.
I've read a lot of Sowell, though, and I still learned things here. For example, the story of Madison Grant (1865-1937), a solid Progressive, who "knew" that racial disparities were the result of race-linked genes. His logic led inexorably to advocating active measures to insure that the genetically-superior not interbreed with their inferiors. His book laying out his horrible vision, The Passing of the Great Race, was a US bestseller, and also in—gulp—Germany. Hitler called it his "Bible".
Sowell has long convincingly argued that disparities between races and ethnicities are the (historical and worldwide) rule rather than the exception. The modern intellectual habit of blaming "society" is incorrect and harmful, as is the related vice of "multiculturalism". The worst thing that can happen to a downtrodden group is to have intellectuals willing to "help", often in concert with grievance-hustlers whose only talent is in perpetuating resentment and a false sense of entitlement.
We live in a time when the demented rantings of a sleazeball NBA owner to his hooker-mistress can be imagined to have important relevance to the state of racial relations in the modern USA. Sowell is a fine antidote to that.