Common Sense & Thomas Sowell – by Amanda S. Green
Say the name Thomas Sowell to many liberals and you will quickly see them searching for ways to condemn him. He’s a well-respected, extremely well-educated person of color (to use the term du jour) who refuses to be a victim. Worse, he refuses to parrot the party line. Instead, he looks at history. He studies the facts. Then—gasp—he applies common sense. How dare he do anything but fall into whatever pre-ordained category they want to shuffle him off into.
Another reason the Left would dearly love to silence him is because his writing is easily readable by just about anyone. Don’t get me wrong. He can write an academic paper or book to rival anyone. But he can also take a serious topic and write about it in such a way the average person can not only understand the facts—and the implications—but enjoy reading about it. That is dangerous, at least to the other side. They don’t want the Average Joe reading facts and the considering the implications of what the Left’s policies might bring.
Sowell’s Controversial Essays is an excellent example of this. As I noted in an earlier post, this book is a collection of some of Professor Sowell’s newspaper essays and comments. Some may be years old, but the message still stands. And, unlike some of his other books, these are quick reads and organized in a way you can pick and choose what you want to read at the time.
But back to common sense.
One of Professor Sowell’s essays in the book is “Racial Profiling of Authors”. The title itself is enough to make you stop and do a double-take. After all, as Sowell points out in the first paragraph, police departments aren’t supposed to racially profile people. So why in the world are authors being racially profiled? And by whom?
The answer to the second question is easy and the professor answers it in the first paragraph. This profiling is being made by publishers and bookstores. At the time Sowell wrote the essay, they were a bit more subtle about it than they are now. But more on that later.
In this case, Sowell became aware of it when he discovered his book, Migrations and Cultures, filed away in the black studies section. To say it brought the professor up short is probably putting it mildly. After all, the book is about migrations “from Europe and Asia”. So why in the world was it in the black studies section?
The only answer that makes sense—because Professor Sowell is black.
Some people may actually think that they are doing black writers a favor by setting up a black authors’ section of a bookstore. But, with friends like these, who needs enemies? Black writers, like white writers, want their books to reach the readers—and anything that interferes with that is bad news. (CE, p. 281)
Put books where the readers don’t expect to find them. Kill sales. Blame everything but the stupidity behind the shelving.
The mindset behind this sort of product placement is baffling. Most readers don’t know what the author looks like, much less what race or ethnic background the author might come from. So to place a book that isn’t obviously about “black studies” or whatever in that section is to throttle the sales pipeline down to the trickle.
What had me rolling my eyes so hard they damned near fell out of my head was this:
The ridiculous lengths to which publishers can carry racial profiling was demonstrated to me when copies of my recently published book Basic Economics were sent out to Jet magazine, the Amsterdam News and other black publications. After I complained, copies were then sent to the Wall Street Journal and other publications dealing with economics. (CE, pg. 282)
Think about that for a minute. A book about economics by one of this country’s most famous voices on the topic at the time was NOT sent to the WSJ. But the publishers damn sure made certain the media outlets that catered to audiences with the same skin color as the author got copies. Of course, it didn’t matter if those outlets actually dealt with serious economic topics or not.
And publishing wonders why readers aren’t buying books in the numbers they want.
Since Professor Sowell wrote his essay, we’ve seen things go even further in publishing. Not only do bookstores continue their attempts to segregate books according to the sex or race or even religion in some instances of the author, without taking into account the content of the books, publishers and writers have really gotten into the movement as well. We’ve seen writers trying to start movements where they will only read things written by writers of a certain flavor for a whole year. Why? Because that flavor has been “marginalized” and we shouldn’t be reading anything by white, cis-male authors.
Forget about content, forget about reader desires. It is all about appearances any more.
Publishers have thrown in with this as well. Anthologies are proudly being promoted where you need only submit if you fall into a small segment of writers. You might need to be female and POC. You might need to be a non-normative sexually identified person. As long as you identify as a “marginalized” person for whatever, you might fit—if you are marginalized in the right way.
And, again, it is all about who and what the author is and not about the quality of the work or—gasp—about what the readers who will be buying the book want.
Professor Sowell nails it here:
You have reached the holy grail of “diversity” when you have black leftists, white leftists, female leftists and Hispanic leftists as professors. Major corporations across the country have their affirmative action officials and many also have “diversity consultants” who come in and harangue the employees with the politically correct party line on race. Not since the days when the Nazis spoke of “Jewish science” has the idea been so widespread that race is destiny as far as ideas are concerned. (CE, pg. 283)
And yet we are the Nazis.
Sowell’s economic common sense about this topic is such that it drives the “enlightened” up a wall. They refuse to admit that this attempt to shine a light on the marginalized in publishing (gag me) actually is holding them back. It limits the visibility of their books in bookstores by placing titles in areas where readers don’t know to look for them. It limits visibility online because publishers first list the book according to agenda and not topic.
But if we dare speak out about this or question it, we are condemned. We’ve seen it over and over, especially in recent years. We are the ones called names and told we are the problem. They accuse us of having blinders on when their own blinders are so firmly affixed that they can’t see the problems inherent in their attempts to even the playing field.
As Sowell points out in many of his essays, the attempt to help often leads to more problems than it solves. Once again, he’s right. Not that publishers or those so busy screeching about the evils of white males in publishing, politics or anything else will hear.
What they don’t get is they have started a conflict without knowing the rules. They’ve entered a war without considering what will happen when the other side finally has said “enough is enough”. The fact they are now starting to turn on their own shows how desperate they are to remain relevant—not that they ever really were—and to maintain power in a failing industry.
So what do we do?
We speak out.
We know what they are saying and we counter in the same way Professor Sowell and others like him do—calmly, with history and facts and common sense.
We will never convince the most rabid of the other side that they are anything but right. However, as we saw in the 2016 election, there are so many who aren’t happy with where the Left has been taking our country. Some sit on the fence, enticed by the promises but knowing, deep inside that something isn’t right. The promises sound too good. It is our job to tell them why and to give them a reason to trust us. That reason is, well, reason.
It is time for preparation.
It is time for education.
It is time for the silent majority to drown out the screeching voices of the few who would turn our country into something that would make our founding fathers weep over.
And how long will it be before someone from the other side twists this call for a protection of liberty into a cry to return to a male patriarchal society where women are kept barefoot, pregnant in and the kitchen with slaves in the field? After all, they are so good at telling us what we mean even when it is the furthest thing from the truth.
It is time to take the narrative back from them. The media, at least the legacy media, is dying. Their subscription numbers prove it. The falling viewership numbers do as well. People are turning to blogs and alternative media sites and, believe it or not, conversations with others to become informed. So let’s inform.
Let’s do our best imitation of Professor Sowell and others like him.
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