Black Rednecks and White Liberals
Thomas Sowell. Encounter Books, $25.95 (372pp) ISBN 978-1-59403-086-4
One of America's foremost black conservative intellectuals returns with this provocative collection of contrarian essays. Hoover Institution Fellow Sowell, author of Ethnic America, argues that ""internal"" cultural habits of industriousness, thriftiness, family solidarity and reverence for education often play a greater role in the success of ethnic minorities than do civil-rights laws or majority prejudices. The title essay posits a ""black redneck"" culture inherited from the white redneck culture of the South and characterized by violent machismo, shiftlessness and disdain for schooling. White liberals, gangsta-rap aficionados and others who lionize its ghetto remnants as an authentic black identity, Sowell contends, have their history wrong and help perpetuate cultural pathologies that hold blacks back. Sowell also examines the cultural achievements of such ""middleman minorities"" as Jews and expatriate Chinese whose frequent persecution, he feels, represents an animus against capitalism. And he defends Western culture itself against charges that it was uniquely culpable for slavery; in fact, he contends, it was uniquely responsible for eradicating slavery. Many of Sowell's arguments-that the 20th-century resegregation of Northern cities was a response to the uncouthness of black rednecks migrating from the South, or that segregated black schools often succeeded by suppressing redneckism with civilized New England puritanism-will arouse controversy, but these vigorously argued essays present a stimulating challenge to the conventional wisdom.
Reviewed on: 05/30/2005