Friday, November 9, 2007

Thomas Sowell, Unspinning Slavery and Giving Back Truth

I've liked Thomas Sowell for a long, long time and try to catch his syndicated columns somewhere each week. Sowell is a black conservative historian at the Hoover Institute who likes to focus on the history of concepts and ideas and often debunks current post-modern thought. He is in good company with fellow Hoover member Victor Davis Hanson.

Sowell's conservative take on life and history is always refreshing to me, in contrast to, say, the victim consciousness and constant whining of the likes of Jessie Jackson and company. I'm sure he's despised by mainstream Black American for refusing to take on the mantle of helpless victim.

This week's column appeared in Thursday's IBD and especially caught my eye. It's entitled, Giving Back Has Become A Mindless Mantra. In it Sowell talks about the new mindless terms of making a difference and giving back and how sick he is of both.

"I have donated money, books and blood," Sowell writes, "to people I have never seen and to whom I own nothing......that is not unusual among Americans who do more of that than anyone else....."

Sowell continues that he doesn't consider this giving back, "because we never took anything from them in the first place...However if we're giving back to society at large, in exchange for all that society has made possible, then that is a very different ballgame."

But in this regard, he asks rhetorically, where is the spirit of gratitude and loyalty in those who preach to us the gospel of giving back? Then he singles out the current educational system in America today which is "actively undermining any sense of loyalty to the traditions, values and institutions of American society."

"What is today's education giving back but condemnation, often depicting sins common to the human race around the world as peculiar evils of our society."

Then Sowell turns to slavery as example.

"A classic example is slavery, which is repeatedly drummed into our heads---in schools and in the media---as something unique done by white people to black people in the United States. The tragic fact is that for thousands of years of recorded history, people of every race and color have been both slaves and enslavers."

"(White) Europeans enslaved on the Barbary Coast of North Africa (by radical Muslims) were far more numerous than all the Africans brought to the U.S. and 13 colonies ...."

"What was unique about Western civilization was that it was the first civilization to turn against slavery, and that it stamped out slavery not only in its own societies but in other societies around the world during the era of Western imperialism."

Sure it took over a century, but the result was the end of slavery in the Western world.

Sowell's final point is well taken and this: Those who so anxiously want to give back, should give back the truth.

I couldn't agree more. Spinning history to grind the axe of self-hatred and to further a political agenda based on myth is not giving back anything. Rather it's taking, stealing, from the richness of our cultural heritage which, though far from perfect, has given the world a country of unlimited opportunity.

Slavery was a terrible thing. But far from endemic to our country and England. If you don't believe Sowell, just ask the people of ancient Sumner, Assyria, Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Nordic invasions and the Barbary Coast......

History of slavery.

And none of this even begins to touch on the slavery within our own minds that holds us in captivity to our lower nature. But that's another post for another day.


advcomps said...

thanks for telling the whole truth

"Slavery in the ancient cultures was known to occur civilizations as old as Sumer, and found in every such civilization"

u will probably be harshly criticised for it....

Webutante said...

The truth will set us free....

Anonymous said...

Sorry for typos as i live in Brussels and am not native English speaker!

Stealing and murder occurs everywhere , sure , but is that an excuse to excuse the murderer? No, the only argument you can make with a statement like "slavery occurs everywhere) is that slavery wasnt a purely white-black thing. "Whites" (as a people) didnt abolish slavery as most people (black/white/whatever) whould rather leech off someone else's labor. Hence the spawn of social "democrazies" (pun) in de Western World. I celebrate the libertarian intellectuals like "Earl Gray" who abolished slavery (1833) in England, going against popular opinion of the day. I believe the abolishment was a good thing but a "fluke" of nature, if i look around at the opinions of socialist, liberals, neo-cons (or neo-commies), i believe abolishment would have never happened.