How Old Is Thomas Sowell?

Thomas Sowell isn’t just a great economist, or a great scholar, or a great pundit. He is something rarer: a great man. At IBD, Sowell writes on race relations in 21st century America. He begins:

I am so old that I can remember when most of the people promoting race hate were white.

Those were, for a lot of people, the good old days. Since then, things have gotten more complicated:

Apparently other Americans also recognize that the sources of racism are different today from what they were in the past. According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 31% of blacks think that most blacks are racists, while 24% of blacks think that most whites are racist. …

Among whites, according to the same Rasmussen poll, 38% consider most blacks racist and 10% consider most whites racist. …

The moral claims advanced by generations of black leaders — claims that eventually touched the conscience of the nation and turned the tide toward civil rights for all — have now been cheapened by today’s generation of black “leaders,” who act as if it is all just a matter of whose ox is gored.

We have seen that in the George Zimmerman case, where it is obvious that if the races of the protagonists were reversed, black “leaders” would be on the other side. Sowell concludes with this perceptive observation:

Groups that rose from poverty to prosperity seldom did so by having racial or ethnic leaders. While most Americans can easily name a number of black leaders, current or past, how many can name Asian American ethnic leaders or Jewish ethnic leaders?

The time is long overdue to stop looking for progress through racial or ethnic leaders. Such leaders have too many incentives to promote polarizing attitudes and actions that are counterproductive for minorities and disastrous for the country.