Few things would benefit America and Americans of all races more than eliminating the racial polarization that still exists in our country. This is why I found Thomas Sowell’s new book, Intellectuals and Race, both interesting and refreshing. The theme of this excellent work is that dishonesty among the intellectual elite of America not only flames the smoldering embers of racial unrest but holds minorities back educationally and economically. Writing for The Washington Times on this subject, Dr. Sowell said: “Among the many irrational ideas about racial and ethnic groups that have polarized societies over the centuries and around the world, few have been more irrational and counterproductive than the current dogmas of multiculturalism.”
Before getting into how dishonest intellectuals with their devotion to multiculturalism are doing a disservice to minorities in America, it is necessary to provide two definitions: one for the term intellectual, the other for multiculturalism. You may have noticed that in the title of this column the term, intellectuals, is in quotes. This is no accident. The term is in quotes because individuals who knowingly mislead others with false information for the purpose of advancing an agenda do not qualify as intellectuals, no matter how cognitively bright and well-educated they may be. An intellectual is an individual of superior intelligence who is dedicated to the pursuit of truth. Hence, intellectuals view the world objectively and arrive at their conclusions on the basis of reason, logic, and facts rather than emotions, feelings, or self-interest. An intellectual would never knowingly lie or mislead. In fact, the term dishonest intellectual is by definition an oxymoron.
Multiculturalism is a point of view in which all cultures are considered equally advanced, equally worthy, and equally valid. In his Washington Times article, Dr. Sowell wrote this about multiculturalism: “George Orwell once said that some ideas are so foolish that only an intellectual could believe them. Multiculturalism is one of those ideas. The intelligentsia burst into indignation or outrage at ‘gaps’ or ‘disparities’ in educational, economic or other outcomes—and denounce any cultural explanation of these group differences as ‘blaming the victim’…In other words, members of minority groups that lag educationally, economically or otherwise are to continue to behave in the future as they have in the past—and, if they do not get the same outcomes as others, it’s society’s fault. This is the bottom line message of multiculturalism.”
That all cultures are equal is the big lie of multiculturalism. Some cultures are without question superior to others in certain ways. This is why certain cultures have prospered over the centuries while others have floundered. For example, cultures that adopted the Protestant work ethic in which people see work as a good thing—an avenue to a better life—and, as a result, are willing to work hard, long, and smart to better themselves have always prospered. Cultures that have eschewed working hard, smart, and long have done poorly. For example, Americans tend to think that Asians are just naturally better at Math, but the truth is they just work harder, longer, and smarter at it. While American school children are fed academic drivel about how it feels to multiply two numbers together, Asian students are drilled over and over on the multiplication tables until they know them by heart.
For an example of how multiculturalists mislead minorities, apply the Protestant work ethic to students and their school work. Students who make their studies a high priority and are willing to work hard at them do better than students who come to school for the social life, skip classes, and neglect their assignments. Few would argue this. Consequently, when multiculturalists accept an anti-academic culture among inner-city minorities and tell them it is acceptable to ridicule or even beat up other minority students who take school seriously—often referred to as “acting white”—they are not just misleading them, they are doing them a great disservice.
Here is what Dr. Sowell had to say about so-called intellectuals who use multiculturalism to gloss over and even accept destructive behavior among minorities: “…intellectuals see themselves as friends, allies and defenders of racial minorities, even as they paint them into a corner of cultural stagnation. This allows the intelligentsia to flatter themselves that they are on the side of the angels against the forces of evil who are conspiring to keep minorities down…Multiculturalism, like the caste system, paints people into the corner where they happened to have been born. But at least the caste system does not claim to benefit those at the bottom.”
As long as minorities are content to allow themselves to be categorized as victims by dishonest intellectuals looking for an ego boost and politicians trying to build a dependent constituency, they will continue to inhabit the basement floor in both educational and economic performance. Only by casting off the shackles of victimhood, accepting that life is not always fair, taking personal responsibility for one’s life, and applying the kind of work ethic that has propelled thousands of Americans from the bottom of the economic ladder to the top will minorities ever improve their lot in life. I will give Dr. Sowell the last word on this subject: “The biggest losers in all of this are those members of racial minorities who allow themselves to be led into the blind alley of resentment and rage, even when there are broad avenues of opportunity available. And we all lose when society is polarized.”