Thomas Sowell on the fact that black and Hispanic leaders betray young people by preaching hopelessness

I do believe that this is one of Sowell’s best articles ever.  It’s a very simple one, really, as his articles so often are.  This one looks at the way black and Hispanic leaders have sown hopelessness amongst the young they claim to lead and definitely influence.  It made me quite sad to read it:

Some people try to explain why Asians [non-English speaking immigrants], and Asian-Americans, succeed so well in education and in the economy by some special characteristics that they have.

That may be true, but their success may also be due to what they do not have — namely “leaders” who tell them that the deck is so stacked against them that they cannot rise, or at least not without depending on “leaders.”

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  • Call me Lennie

    What everyone one of these hard working immigrants share is some experience in their childhood — ie, severe hunger, death of a sibling or parent from some circumstance related to poverty or personal near- death experience — that concentrates the mind to an extreme degree.  It also causes them to appreciate the wonder of a country that will give them a chance to escape the horrors of their past; if only they put in the hours needed.  In a very meaningful sense, their childhood experiences literally obliterates their entitled infantile self, as was the case with American WWII generation — the last group in America to experience the circumstances similar to our industrious Asian immigrant.
    Moreover, these immigrants are completely immune to the siren song of the greivance monger statists, because they have already seen that dog and pony show and know where it leads 

  • JKB

    I posted this comment over at Maggie’s Farm when MLK’s speech was being discussed:
    “Those who inherited the leadership of the Civil Rights movement looked deep into the content of their character…and decided they’d best be judged by the color of their skin or they were in trouble.”
    They certainly don’t want those they purport to lead to start thinking they can succeed as individuals.

  • Bookworm

    JKB: I love that!!

  • GingerB

    When Obama was elected my one ray of hope was that this would outshine the preachers of doom and gloom, and that minority youngsters would see that they can do and be anything they wanted to be.  I don’t think it has worked out that way.  What kind of leader thinks placing a big chip on someone’s shoulder is going to help them fly?

  • Eidolon

    I think Asian immigrants also have a healthy distrust of government. I have some experience with Chinese immigrants, and there’s a feeling of “I’ll take what the government is offering me today, but I don’t believe anything they say about tomorrow.” You can’t trust the Chinese government beyond what it’s actually doing right now, and sometimes not even that far. That attitude is extremely helpful even in a democracy, and really protects them from dependency. They don’t believe they can trust anyone to have their best interests in mind except themselves and their immediate family, which is exactly as it should be.
    The real problem is that people lose that fear of government, the fear that people with that much power might use it against them. Somehow people don’t realize (and aren’t taught) that any power that can be used in your favor today could be used against you tomorrow, so it should be as limited as possible.

  • Bookworm

    There’s one caveat to the whole “Asians are different when it comes to success” theory.  While the immigrants are self-sufficient and distrust government, their children, having worked enough to get educated at America’s finest institutions, are as Progressive as any American college graduates, complete with victim mentality.  Leftism taints everything it touches.

  • raymondjelli

    The Left does worse than preach hopelessness. It preaches white european intellectual superiority.  It is a bait and switch.  They are on your side (actually not on your side, they are just against the “oppression” that you need them to save you from) until they are against you and when they are against you they are out to ruin you. Nazism was socialism with racial superiority stated openly and no longer behind the mask like it was under Marxism.
    The leftist activists will give way to the fascists every time.  Their goal is to be 2nd class citizens if they can have clear 3rd class citizens. Jewish leftists are proof of that and the other minorities have a hard lesson ahead.  Most likely they won’t even learn from it.

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  • Libby

    Sowell is right about leaders, but I would imagine that parental expectations are a factor: Tiger mom (you will get an A!!) vs. single mom (please don’t drop out!). Also wondering what the out of wedlock birth rate/single parent household comparisons are between the various communities.

  • Eidolon

    I’ve now read the article, and it is indeed excellent. Very straightforward and to the point. I’ve often observed the same things, and drew most of the same conclusions.
    Libby, the out-of-wedlock birth rates are what you’d expect — highest for blacks, then Hispanics, then whites, then Asians with the fewest. Funny how the differences are very similar to academic achievement stats for people of those races.
    Asians do become more liberal in subsequent generations, but they don’t trust in any phony “community leaders.” From time to time there’s some sort of controversy that has to do with Asians — the Jeremy Lin “chink in the armor” thing, for example — and you notice that 1) if it has to do with an individual they rarely make a statement about it, and 2) there isn’t an equivalent of Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson running around making people grovel at his feet over it. And yet, judging by the amount of talk about it at least, there’s far less friction between whites and Asians than between whites and blacks. It’s also amazing how it tends to be whites who complain when something racist or ostensibly racist is done towards Asians (see the Jeremy Lin thing again). Weird how those evil racist whites would defend a small minority group without it being demanded of them.
    I’m not sure exactly what makes the difference, in terms of accepting leaders for your racial community vs. not doing so. My guess would be that most Asians have intense family loyalty and little outside the family. Most countries in Asia have pretty bad governments, and not very much loyalty to their nation or to a larger group outside of one’s own family. In China it’s expected that everyone is out to get as much for his family as possible, and that no one has any interest in helping anyone they’re not related to. Nobody speaks for your family except you; nobody wants good things for your family except you. It seems that at least some of this seems to stay in the second and third generation, and by that point it’s pretty common for intermarriage to make subsequent generations not very recognizable as Asian.

  • Spartacus

    “Life is pain.  Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.”  — The Dread Pirate Roberts
    It’s not easy being black or hispanic.  But then, it’s not easy being white, either.  One can take it all philosophically (see Ecclesiastes 1:1-12:14), or one can find someone to blame.  Human nature inclines us toward the latter.  Now, just imagine believing that all of your troubles in life are due to the oppressive actions of Those People (whoever Those People happen to be in any given scenario).  It doesn’t take too many job applications met with (statistically likely) silence, too many store clerks who failed to ooze customer service with sincerity and cheerfulness gushing from every pore, and too many green lights that went yellow and then red suspiciously fast before one develops an intense hatred of Those People.  For the aspiring race hustl… er, community organizer, this is powerful stuff if successfully harnessed.  You may not get all of Your People to believe that their every trouble in life is caused by Those People, but even if you only get 10%, that’s an intensely passionate 10%, and you’ve got yourself a faithful core of supporters and a steady paycheck.  Evil?  Yes.  But why let that little quibble get in the way?

  • Eidolon

    I’m curious to what extent black racial animosity towards whites is based on faulty assumptions of what being white is like. There was a skit with Eddie Murphy that I’m reminded of:

    I think it’s easy to assume that all the little annoyances are intentional — it speaks to our inherent self-centeredness. That person isn’t just rude, he must have meant to be rude to me. That guy didn’t help me because he has something against me. I bet other people don’t have these problems. Most people get over this because they’re taught that they aren’t the center of the universe, annoying things happen, and most likely your experience isn’t unique. But black Americans are constantly told that anything that annoys them, even a little bit, is intentional on the part of whites. That being the case, it’s not surprising that they overreact so wildly to the smallest things. As C.S. Lewis says, “I am not angry…with a man who trips me up by accident; I am angry with a man who tries to trip me up even if he does not succeed.” The great success of the “community leaders” is to convince black people that every time they trip or stumble, a white person must have intended to trip them.

    Asians, in my experience, don’t expect much from other people. They don’t think they owe anyone anything, and they don’t think they’re owed anything in return. Leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone. Be nice and they’ll be nice back. We can see what the results are for these different philosophies.

  • Charles Martel

    I have a theory about why so many blacks bear such antipathy toward their strawman conception of whites. It’s because the Democratic Party, which defended slavery for decades, has resurrected and fed the slave mentality.
    Back in the day, blacks on plantations were either field hands or house servants. How they were treated depended not only on the whims of Massa (the federal government) but upon the moods and cajolerie of the house Negroes. Massa’s house slaves controlled the field hands by promising them food and shelter, as well as protection from venomous abolitionists (conservatives) who threatened to take those goodies away. “Who are you going to trust? Massa, who gives you everything, or yourself, who is nothing more than a miserable slave?”
    It’s pretty obvious that Massa’s house lackeys are people like Jackson, Sharpton, Waters, Belafonte, Glover, and all the other race pimps who’ve sold out for access to fine silverware, fireplaces, and good meat. As long as the field hands listen to them, life for many black Americans is never going to get better.

  • Ymarsakar

    Whenever blacks kept telling me Asians were smart and whites were dumb, somehow implying blacks are the same or worse, I always considered it racism and wondered where it came from.
    Now I know. The source of evil is not very far away, not as far away as one would like to think.
    Of course when Europs and Aussies talk about “Asians”, they are speaking about Pakistanis and Islamic jihadists from Africa, somehow.