The Right Opinion

Liberalism Versus Blacks

By Thomas Sowell · Jan. 15, 2013

There is no question that liberals do an impressive job of expressing concern for blacks. But do the intentions expressed in their words match the actual consequences of their deeds?

San Francisco is a classic example of a city unexcelled in its liberalism. But the black population of San Francisco today is less than half of what it was back in 1970, even though the city's total population has grown.

Severe restrictions on building housing in San Francisco have driven rents and home prices so high that blacks and other people with low or moderate incomes have been driven out of the city. The same thing has happened in a number of other California communities dominated by liberals.

Liberals try to show their concern for the poor by raising the level of minimum wage laws. Yet they show no interest in hard evidence that minimum wage laws create disastrous levels of unemployment among young blacks in this country, as such laws created high unemployment rates among young people in general in European countries.

The black family survived centuries of slavery and generations of Jim Crow, but it has disintegrated in the wake of the liberals' expansion of the welfare state. Most black children grew up in homes with two parents during all that time but most grow up with only one parent today.

Liberals have pushed affirmative action, supposedly for the benefit of blacks and other minorities. But two recent factual studies show that affirmative action in college admissions has led to black students with every qualification for success being artificially turned into failures by being mismatched with colleges for the sake of racial body count.

The two most recent books that show this with hard facts are “Mismatch” by Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor, Jr., and “Wounds That Will Not Heal” by Russell K. Nieli. My own book “Affirmative Action Around the World” shows the same thing with different evidence.

In all these cases, and many others, liberals take positions that make them look good and feel good – and show very little interest in the actual consequences for others, even when liberal policies are leaving havoc in their wake.

The current liberal crusade for more so-called “gun control” laws is more of the same. Factual studies over the years, both in the United States and in other countries, repeatedly show that “gun control” laws do not in fact reduce crimes committed with guns.

Cities with some of the tightest gun control laws in the nation have murder rates far above the national average. In the middle of the 20th century, New York had far more restrictive gun control laws than London, but London had far less gun crime. Yet gun crimes in London skyrocketed after severe gun control laws were imposed over the next several decades.

Although gun control is not usually considered a racial issue, a wholly disproportionate number of Americans killed by guns are black. But here, as elsewhere, liberals' devotion to their ideology greatly exceeds their concern about what actually happens to flesh and blood human beings as a result of their ideology.

One of the most polarizing and counterproductive liberal crusades of the 20th century has been the decades-long busing crusade to send black children to predominantly white schools. The idea behind this goes back to the pronouncement by Chief Justice Earl Warren that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Yet within walking distance of the Supreme Court where this pronouncement was made was an all-black high school that had scored higher than two-thirds of the city's white high schools taking the same test – way back in 1899! But who cares about facts, when you are on a liberal crusade that makes you feel morally superior?

To challenge government-imposed racial segregation and discrimination is one thing. But to claim that blacks get a better education if they sit next to whites in school is something very different. And it is something that goes counter to the facts.

Many liberal ideas about race sound plausible, and it is understandable that these ideas might have been attractive 50 years ago. What is not understandable is how so many liberals can blindly ignore 50 years of evidence to the contrary since then.

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12 Comments

Lee in Phoenix said:

Why are liberals oblivious to the facts? Because the facts do not diminish their success in reaching their actual goal, which was not to do social good, but instead to increase their popularity. You see, the more they fail, the harder they must try, showing the whole time how much they care.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 8:10 AM

Joel in Ohio said:

An excellent article. So what is the difference between the Southern Democrats of 1865 and the northern democrats of 2013? Both enslaved a group through political domination. The difference is that the northern democrats are more subtle (to some) in the way they went (and still do) about domination. (IMO)
It is time to make counter-arguments for all the issues Mr. Sowell raises. Only with courage and resolution can principles of self-sufficiency and excellence be restored over the long-term in liberal-controlled communities.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 8:36 AM

Old Desert Rat in Las Vegas, NV said:

Dear Dr. Sowell, your column is exactly right. In the sixties, we talked about Black Power. I always argued there was only green power, whoever has the money makes the rules. I am glad that 6% of the black population is conservative. Now we have to aim for 12%, then 20%. People will not be afraid to embrace it if they feel unalone. Keep up the good fight.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Tapdaddy in Indiana said:

"What is not understandable is how so many liberals can blindly ignore 50 years of evidence to the contrary since then."

Facts and evidence don't matter to a liberal just what feels good & helps to alleviate their guilt.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Honest Abe in North Carolina said:

Excellent facts, Dr. Sowell. In the '50s we were told the reason for integration was to help blacks rise up to the level of whites, an evolutionary, progressive experiment. The only result I have seen after 60+ years and trillions of dollars is that neither, as a whole have come up to any level of acceptance, perhaps a regression of ability to reason and discern facts and truth. However, we do have some nice school buildings and athletic fields.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Tony in Texas said:

And when the majority of blacks, if and when they wake up, they'll find that they are again slaves to a plantation belonging to master obozo.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 2:26 PM

Leo Karnowski in Irrigon, Oregon said:

They will pry my guns from my cold hands first. This is my right as a USA citizen

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 5:58 PM

Leo Karnowski in Irrigon, Oregon said:

They will pry my guns from my cold hands first. This is my right as a US citizen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 6:00 PM

Howard Last in Wyoming replied:

Leo, I will gladly give them my guns, but in pieces. Starting with the projectiles that travel at 3,000+ fps from the rifles and 1,000+ FPS from the handguns.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 7:38 PM

RamonaG in Pasadena, CA replied:

Hear! Hear!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 8:20 PM

richard lindstrom in vwnice fl. said:

As usual, Dr. Sowell has it correct.
Have a look at Detroit ,my birth place and the condition it is is in, has been and, from the looks of things-will always be.
OMG, what are we coming to and did all of the WW 2 veterans such as me for one, fight the Great War for all humanity,only to see it crumbling daily.!!!!!
Thanks to superb men like the eminent Dr., perhaps someday, we Americans will wake up and do what we can to Save our Once Great country from the path of Destruction our so called Politicians in DC have taken us upon.
Good night and may God Bless america.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 4:09 AM

pete in CA said:

Worked in San Francisco area for nearly 20 years, at least half of that time living in a camper in the back of my truck.

The San Jose Mercury even did a story at one point about "lot lizards." So many gainfully employed people were forced to live in their vehicles, be it a car, van, camper or motor home. Campground prices could run to $2,500 to $3,000 per month, so those of us who weren't allowed to overnight in our work parking areas found "friendly" stores with large parking lots who would allow us to park overnight. WalMart, Home Depot, Lowe's and a few others were understanding, unfortunately not all neighborhoods were. I was "asked" to leave a weekend lot I'd been calling home for about three months by an former code enforcement officer who said he'd recently bought a condo across the street from the area I parked in. He said he's sold his former house because so many "gooks" were moving into the area, and he didn't want to have to look at a parking lot full of "gypsies" here.

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 5:03 PM