Danny Cardwell's picture

    Thomas Sowell Retired: Bye Felicia

    Thomas Sowell Retired: Bye Felicia

    “But, to the race hustlers, black lives don't really matter nearly as much as their chance to get publicity, power, money, votes or whatever else serves their own interests.”                                                

    Thomas Sowell



    When I logged on Twitter and saw Thomas Sowell trending I thought he had passed away; I was relieved to find out he was just retiring. That relief was replaced with joy, which was then replaced with apathy. I hope Thomas Sowell enjoys a long and fruitful retirement. I don’t wish him any ill will. I hope he gets to snap pictures for another decade, but I won’t pretend like his career benefited the masses of Black people. Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Ward Connerly, and Larry Elder are my Mount Rushmore of Anti-Black-Black academicians and media personalities. In my opinion, their collective efforts to sabotage anyone fighting systemic racism, coupled with their innate ability to attack Black victims of police brutality make them just as dangerous to young Black men as the Trap Rappers who make millions selling the illusion of drug game fame and fortune. The latter have succeeded in profiting from gangster imagery that may or may not be grounded in reality, but the former provide cover to racist elements in the conservative media who portray Black people as willful accomplices to many of the injustices we face. 



    I know Black Conservatives who've used Thomas Sowell’s work to ground much of their economic and political philosophies. I can’t and won’t deny his impact on some of my contemporaries. He is an iconic conservative thinker and writer, but I part ways with him when it comes to his commitment to the Black community. Thomas Sowell has always chosen white conservative acceptance over justice for Black people. I know Black conservative writers who will never make it big because they choose their people over their politics. The cardinal sin for a Black conservative is defending Black people from truncated racist tropes. To make it big as a Black person in the conservative media one must deny the racism that exists in too many Human Resources departments, you must defend the police in instances of police brutality (no matter how egregious their behavior), and when in doubt: blame problems in the Black community on the destruction of Black family or Black on Black crime. There are a number of industries where being on that, “Black sh*t” doesn't fly, but I haven’t seen any industry as intolerant of pro-black rhetoric as the conservative media. I can’t think of one prominent Black conservative with a national platform who has routinely called out racism. You can't advance in that system by challenging the conservative media's position on issues related to the Black community.


    Putting a Black face on white supremacist ideology and rhetoric is a tactic rooted in slavery. Contrary to the profit centered "race hustling" myth perpetuated by conservatives, the overwhelming majority of Black activists I've come in contact with haven't benefitted monetarily from supporting the Black community. Most have been blackballed at one point or another from predominantly white institutions because of their outspoken support for Black people. Dr. Michael Parenti once said, "a  journalists who writes for any publication can feel free to write what they want, as long as what they write pleases their editor's wishes." This holds true for Blacks on conservative platforms; even some liberal platforms have a threshold for excessive Black content. Black conservatives talk about freedom, but many aren't free to speak out against systems of white supremacy if they wanted to. A majority of conservatives avoid subject matter that challenges their view of America.


    I will remember Thomas Sowell as a man who denied the plight of Black men in America when he wasn't too busy ignoring it. He was, after all, one of George Zimmerman’s most prominent Black defenders. I did a quick Google search to see if he's defended any Black Person in any of the high-profile cases of police brutality over the last few years: I couldn’t find one example of him doing so. Dr. Sowell’s retirement isn’t anything for the Black community to celebrate or mourn. He never used his intellect or platform for our benefit. He leaves and opens a space for a new Black face to rise up the conservative media ladder. 


    Almost 25 years ago, Dr. Sowell gave a full-throated defense of the L.A.P.D. officers who nearly beat Rodney King to death. In the last few years Black conservatives have been on television and radio defending the N.Y.P.D. officer who choked Eric Garner to death, blaming Freddie Gray for his severed spine, and defending Michael Slager’s character to the detriment of Walter Scott’s life. There will always be a seat at the table for anyone promoting or normalizing anti-Black sentiments (see Tomi Lahren). If Black conservatives ever want to ditch the label of “Uncle Tom” or “Coon” it would behoove them to start supporting Black people in public. I’ve never heard a Black person call someone a sellout because they believed in supply side economics, but I have seen people disown public figures for their silence. When Black conservatives learn they can’t ignore the plight of Black people and build a legacy with us at the same time they might be able to come home, but until then: Bye Felicia!



    Considered by many an intellectual giant, he supported Rush Limbaugh in public, relating that Rush was the only talk show on radio or TV he regularly listened to.

    It is then, perhaps, not surprising, that neither he nor Rush received that much coveted honorarium, a Nobel Prize.

    I tried reading Sowell's books, but they seemed repetitive and poorly thought out.

    Sowell appeased white Conservatives with quotes like the following:

    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. Thomas Sowell

    The quote is meant to soothe the souls of white Conservatives. The quote allows white Conservatives to feel superior because they respect marriage and fidelity ( see "Trump, Giuliani, Gingrich, etc.").

    When you think about the above quote, you realize that Sowell is full of crap. Black families could be broken apart at the whim of the master. Only a delusional person would talk about stable marriages during slavery. 


    It was difficult for me to respect Sowell because I found glaring errors at the beginning of multiple statements and sentences. His work cannot be considered evocative of deep thought.


    Mr Cardwell... I'll wait to read about Sowell in his obit . . .

    Apparently Sowell never read the Rodney King trial Police Transmissions

    1:12 a.m. From Powell and Wind to the foot patrol officer: "....ooops."

    1:12 a.m. From the foot patrol to Powell and Wind: "oops, what?"

    1:13 a.m. From Powell and Wind to the foot patrol: "I haven't beaten anyone this bad in a long time."

    1:15 a.m. From the foot patrol to Powell and Winds: "Oh not again....Why for you do that....I thought you agreed to chill out for awhile....What did he do?"

    1:16 a.m. From Powell and Wind to the foot patrol: "I think he was dusted...many broken bones later....After the pursuit...."

    We here in LA had to suffer and live through this due to the actions of those Son's-a-bitches...


    He leaves and opens a space for a new Black face to rise up the conservative media ladder. 

    So far it seems like the mainstream black conservative intellectuals exist to absolve white conservatives of sin and responsibility.  Maybe Sowell's heir will be somebody more provocative. There is plenty of room for a libertarian black thinker, for example, to push back on right wing "law and order" politics.

    Chidike Okeem is a Nigerian born Black conservative who is capable of rambling on about a number of debunked conservative ideas, but he has a simple commitment to justice that makes him authentic. God knows I've been wrong about a number of issues over the years, but I've never willfully distorted facts material to an issue for political purpose, and that seems to be a necessity to advance on that side of the aisle. Thanks for reading!


    Perhaps a bigger question is why we don't have a normal black columnist of the stature of a Thomas Friedman (yuck), William Safire (gag), David Brock (seriously?) or Gail Collins (let me repeat myself...). It's one thing to have a counter-argument to a prevailing opinion to keep us on our toes, but Sowell was the token shill to a non-existent mainstream argument on the left. Ta-Nehisi Coates probably is a good example of how close, yet how far away that moment is.

    Similar to the perversity of Clarence Thomas representing the black voice on the Court for decades (even as he stays mute - even more ironic).

    I can't claim to a complete familiarity with his work, but Glenn Loury strikes me as an interesting black intellectual who is conservative-ish. My understanding is that he became a full-fledged black conservative during the Reagan years, but moved leftward after Charles Murray's books became part of the catechism for conservatives. He may not have believed in the efficacy of liberal programs, but he couldn't stomach the "best to do nothing" approach to the inner city's problems that Murray et al promoted. He thinks that we, as a society, and therefore the government, have a duty to DO something to help inner city youth escape their dire circumstances. We can't just leave it up to invisible market forces to do the job. The question is what.

    Today, it's hard to say where he stands on the liberal-conservative spectrum. Fairly much against BLM, but mostly because many more young black people are getting killed by gangs, etc., than by the police. If black lives REALLY mattered, then why isn't BLM focusing on that, maybe not instead of, but at least in addition to, police brutality. He is "pro-police" in that he believes most police are good, decent people who take their jobs seriously to protect the people. When they pull back from the 'hood, the big losers are the innocent folks in black neighborhoods who must fend for themselves. And so on.

    Sometimes, it's hard to know where someone like Loury stands, because often he's writing against a certain line of thinking or a trend, and so some of the nuance and caveats get sacrificed to making an impact. But having read him almost entirely on FB, it's clear to me that he cares a great deal about the black community and takes up black issues from his own heterodox perspective. He runs The Glenn Show on blogging heads where he engages conservatives and liberals, both black and white, but with a special fondness, I think, for McWhorter.

    I don't know Sowell's work well, but it seems to me from a distance that he had started "phoning it in" a long time ago with smug interviews and book after book that simply repackaged what he'd already said in his four or five previous books. Loury is far more interesting and nuanced, IMHO.

    Yeah, complexity is one of the first victims of modern discourse in its quest for gotchas and defining moments. The luxury of being a nobody is I can write diametrically opposed arguments along with non-party line surmises without affecting a paycheck or market acceptability or a negative tweetstorm. The flareup over 20-year-old "superpredator" while ignoring a crime crisis was a case in point. All things aside, for the black community to move forward, Trump or no Trump, they need some out-of-the-box solutions. I was watching a Prince clip last night where he talked about rappers wanting to use his music for "bitch" this, "ho" that - it was a downhill road he refused to go down, as much as he liked the musicians. Trump's negative depiction of black society is also not too uncommon - what will the inage be in 30 years, and how do we get from here to there? 

    One of the things that Glenn Loury points out is that the Black Caucus was in FAVOR of the crime bill (largely) because THEIR people were getting killed in that crime wave. And, maybe uniquely for a politician, Bill Clinton actually apologized in THIS election cycle for the consequences that bill had on the black community. I don't know that Hillary did, but I remember Bill apologizing, and HE was the one responsible for it, not her.

    And yet Anderson (?) who wrote the New Jim Crow advocated that black people vote for Bernie at least in large part because of that bill.

    The whole presentness argument is tricky. On the one hand, you don't want to excuse evil acts, or acts that are now labeled as evil, because "who could've known," or "that's what we thought back then," but it's ridiculous to think that people can see the consequences of their positions that far into the future or come to an understanding that even most critics have only recently come to. (Of course, there's always the stray oracle who can point to a document where he predicted the Crash, etc., but so what?) And on the third hand, we don't want to see, exactly, that as long as the intentions are good, any action or bill should be excused.

    And also, there's the opportunity to *fix* mistakes in the ensuing 20 years, rather than simply blaming the culprit. There's more hostility towards Clinton in the 90's than Bush in the 2000's. If Glass-Steagal was the obvious economy killer, how come no protests in 2000 or 2004? How come Kerry's wealth wasn't a campaign issue in 2004? We're rather quixotic and arbitrary about our outrage - almost as if someone were pulling our strings.

    Yes and yes.

    Peter... About Loury?

    He thinks that we, as a society, and therefore the government, have a duty to DO something to help inner city youth escape their dire circumstances. We can't just leave it up to invisible market forces to do the job. The question is what.

    Anyone such as Loury who writes such tripe supporting the myth that the federal level has the solutions to what goes down in a local area such as in Chicago and the outrageously high death rates of Blacks on Blacks is full of crap. See, "#GiveTrumpAChance to ‘fix it.’" at Instapundit.

    Passing the buck! Easy for Loury him to say.


    Not a huge Loury fan, but does "government" as a repository of responsibility necessarily implicate Washington dc

    Surely you would not hold Rahm Emmanuel harmless for the carnage?

    How much do you know about him to have become "not a huge fan."

    Not pushing him, but just curious.


    Don't understand what you're saying or your apparent (at least) hostility to federal action. Can you explain?

    Not sure I'd get too hung up on the word "government," or which level of government (city, state, or federal) should act.

    Basically, as I read him, he's saying that we, as a society, can't just sit back and do nothing and expect the market to work things out.**

    Anyway, if you could explain what you mean, I'd appreciate it.

    ** In saying this, he's responding to conservative bromides about what can be done about the plight of the inner city.


    Agree with you 100%, my friend!!

    Never liked this man...the way he comports himself with his own Black community is deplorable!

    And not just the Blacks, but every Ethnic Group and Beliefs not apt to his definition of "American Exceptionalism" and "Exclusivity".

    He would fit great with Trump's Administration!

    Agree with you 100%, my friend!!

    Never liked this man...the way he comports himself with his own Black community is deplorable!

    And not just the Blacks, but every Ethnic Group and Beliefs not apt to his definition of "American Exceptionalism" and "Exclusivity".

    He would fit great with Trump's Administration!

    I read him as saying that he's willing to work with anyone who has a bright idea about how to help his people move forward. He's not a Trump supporter, but he's not going to reject a Trump idea out of hand, simply because it comes from Trump. He probably would say that neither he, nor his people, have that luxury.

    It's sort of a pragmatic view within a limited sphere.

    Latest Comments