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Friday
Mar292013

Thomas Sowell On Intellectuals and Race, Part 2

The American Spectator runs the second part of my interview with economist Thomas Sowell today.  Sowell has just written a provocative new book entitled Intellectuals and Race.  Here is part of the interview:

AmSpec: In the book you have a definition of “multiculturalism.” Can you talk about that and its implications?

Sowell: The central premise of multiculturalism is that no culture is superior to another. The proponents of this draw conclusions such as it is wrong for school teachers to insist that black kids from the ghetto speak standard English.

The idea that no culture is superior is another fact-free premise. If you look at the actual history of any society, they borrow from other societies. That’s why I believe that isolated societies are almost invariably lagging because they can’t borrow from other people. An example I like to give to challenge the notion that cultures are not superior but simply different is the adoption of Arabic numerals in countries that derived from Rome and had used Roman numerals prior to that. Any mathematician will be able to elaborate on why Arabic numerals are better than Roman numerals. Moreover, Arabic numerals have triumphed all over the world.

What multiculturalism does is it paints people into the corner in which they happen to be born. You would think that people on the left would be very sensitive to the notion that one’s whole destiny should be determined by the accident of birth as it is, say, in a caste system. But what the multiculturalism dogma does is create the same problems that the caste system creates. Multiculturalism uses more pious language, but the outcome is much the same.

Read Part 2 here.

See Part 1 here.

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